The silent majority should no longer remain silent to ensure that our right to clean air is protected
THERE are more smokers today than ever before. Although the percentage of smokers may be decreasing, there are almost a billion daily smokers across the globe.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) produced a report — the “Global Burden of Disease” — stating that a quarter of the male population smoked daily in 2015, and just over five per cent of women smoked as well.
Needless to say, these figures are linked to a significant amount of disease and death — the latter amounting to six million per annum. However, these numbers do not paint the full picture as they do not take into account the effect of tobacco on those who do not smoke, such as secondhand or passive smokers.
Secondhand smoke harms other adults and children. While this applies to even those without any health issues, it is particularly relevant to those who have under- lying health problems, such as asthma and heart disease. The presence of smoke from both tobacco and electronic cigarettes are irritants to the airways.
Victims of secondhand smoke are usually not in a position to defend their rights to clean air. Children are particularly affected — it is well documented that secondhand smoke causes more frequent and severe asthma attacks, stunts development of growing lungs, increases ear and lung infections and even increases the risk of sudden infant death syndrome.
Unfortunately, there is no riskfree level of secondhand smoke, as even the briefest of exposure can be harmful. This means the only way to protect non-smokers is to ensure that we have smokefree environments.
In September 2015, countries within the WHO adopted a set of Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) with the aim to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure