Run Away From Tobacco -- Experts Caution Diabetes Patients

Eranga Isaac, CNS Correspondent, Nigeria
As the world marked the World No Tobacco Day 2014, experts cautioned sufferers of diabetes to desist from the use of tobacco, saying it will lead to more complications. Speaking to CNS, Dr. (Mrs.) Omoye Amusa a Consultant at the Stella Obasanjo Hospital, Benin City, Nigeria informed that diabetes is a group of diseases in which blood sugar levels are higher than normal. She added that most of the food a person eats is turned into glucose (a kind of sugar) for the body’s cells to use for energy. The pancreas, an organ near the stomach, makes a hormone called insulin that helps glucose get into the body’s cells.

“When you have diabetes, your body either does not make enough insulin or cannot use the insulin very well. Less glucose gets into the cells and instead builds up in the blood. Tobacco use can increase blood sugar levels and lead to insulin resistance. And the more you smoke, the greater your risk of diabetes is”, she said.

According to Centre for Disease Control and Prevention, USA, if you have diabetes and you smoke, you are more likely to have serious health problems from diabetes. Smokers with diabetes have higher risks for serious complications including
  • Heart and kidney disease
  • Poor blood flow in the legs and feet that can lead to infections, ulcers, and possible amputation (such as toes or feet)
  • Retinopathy (an eye disease that can cause blindness)
  •  Peripheral neuropathy (damaged nerves to the arms and legs that causes numbness, pain, weakness, and poor coordination)
According to Dr Anthony D Harries, a Senior Advisor in the International Union Against Tuberculosis and Lung Disease (the Union), “People with diabetes mellitus should not smoke because they really increase their risk of heart attack, stroke or leg amputation. But in areas of the world where TB prevalence is high, there is another important reason. Both diabetes and smoking independently increase the risk of getting tuberculosis, the risk of dying while on anti-TB treatment and the risk of getting tuberculosis again after successfully completing treatment. In a study last year in Korea, patients with tuberculosis who smoked and had diabetes were six times more likely to die than non-smokers and non-diabetics. Clear message – smoking is very bad for your health!”

According to a survey conducted by the National Bureau of Statistics and some international organizations in 2013, 4.5 million Nigerians are addicted to tobacco. The survey shows that while the eastern part of the country has high cases of smokeless tobacco usage, the north has high cases of tobacco smokers. The deputy director in charge of household surveys at the National Bureau of Statistics, Isiaka Olarewaju, explained that the survey was conducted in the six geopolitical zones of the country.

The goal of World No Tobacco Day is to protect people not only from the devastating health consequences due to tobacco, but also from the social, environmental and economic scourges of tobacco use and exposure to tobacco smoke. The specific goals of the 2014 campaign of WHO are that: governments should increase taxes on tobacco to levels that reduce tobacco consumption; and individuals and that civil society organization should encourage their governments to increase taxes on tobacco to levels that reduce consumption.

Under the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO FCTC), countries have been called upon to implement tax and price policies on tobacco products to reduce tobacco consumption. Increasing excise taxes on tobacco is considered to be the most cost-effective tobacco control measure. Research shows that higher taxes are effective in reducing tobacco use among lower-income groups and in preventing young people from starting to smoke. A 10% increase in tobacco prices decreases tobacco consumption by about 4% in high-income countries, and by up to 8% in most low- and middle-income countries.

Eranga Isaac, Citizen News Service -  CNS 
4 June 2014