Tobacco consumption can cause at least 16 different cancers of the body, including lung cancer, cancers of the mouth, larynx, pharynx, esophagus, bladder, kidney, pancreas, liver, cervix, stomach, colon, and rectum.
However, the number of smokers and tobacco-related diseases are on the rise in Myanmar though we have tried our best to reduce tobacco use for many years.
More than 60,000 people in Myanmar die annually from diseases such as cancer, heart attack, hypertension, and respiratory problems resulting from tobacco use. Now is the time we review the situation and seek ways to effectively control tobacco consumption.
When we look at Western countries, their citizens mainly rely on cigarettes. But, in Myanmar, the people consume both smokeless tobacco such as betel quid and tobacco that can be smoked.
Smoking is by far the most common way people indulge in tobacco use and feed their nicotine addiction. There are other delivery methods, such as chewing tobacco and replacement e-cigarettes.
We need to stay updated on the various products available and, discuss the dangers of tobacco use with children and adults because tobacco companies regularly modify their products to attract users, and introduce novel tobacco products to the market.
Part of the problem is awareness. Cigarette packs carry grotesque photos of tumors on them. People know they’re bad. But other tobacco products are sold loose and used as stimulants, like chewing gums. Leaf cigars are green and, most consumers believe that they are safer than conventional cigarettes. Leaf cigars also provide a livelihood to mostly first-time female workers.
To control and reduce the consumption of tobacco related products, we need to work out two things, which are connected.
The first is raising awareness, and we are all concerned about spreading the bad effects of cigarettes and tobacco to the public in states, regions, townships, rural villages, and to conduct educative talks at public places.
Secondly, in a bid to control the production and distribution of tobacco related products, we need to rewrite a new law, increase tobacco tax rates annually after the inflation rate and increased national income are taken into account, and implementing tobacco free programs, in accordance with Article-8 of the International Convention on Tobacco and Tobacco Related products, laws and procedures.
By drawing up an appropriate strategy and work processes and by assigning sector-wise duties and responsibilities to relevant ministerial departments and organizations, we can reduce and eradicate the manufacture, trade, and sale of cigarettes and tobacco.