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World No Tobacco Day   The dangers of tobacco |01 June 2023

To commemorate ‘World No Tobacco Day’ that is celebrated on May 31 every year, Seychelles NATION explores the health hazards of tobacco.

Bharathi Viswanathan from the Unit for Prevention and Control of Cardiovascular Disease (UPCCD) explained the dangers that come along with tobacco. She mentioned that the day is not new in Seychelles and that the activities surrounding the subject matter helps to make the dangers more present and raise awareness surrounding it.

The main part of the risk factor is the non-communicable diseases which come along with tobacco such as cardiovascular diseases, cancers such as lung cancer, diabetes and chronic respiratory diseases. It can even increase your alcohol intake, being further detrimental to your health.

She continued by explaining that despite smoking tobacco without the use of nicotine, it has been scientifically proven and stated by the WHO that both are addictive.

“Most smokers want to stop but find it difficult,” she stated.

In addition, there are over 6,000 chemicals inside a cigarette, with tobacco, tar and nicotine being the prominent ones. The carbon monoxide that exudes from smoking can cause health problems such as to your respiratory system, which is why smokers are often out of breath faster.

Ms Viswanathan discussed the fact that most people who start smoking are doing so before the legal age of 18, in fact, over 15% of children aged between 13-15 in Seychelles are smoking. This can be because of various factors such as peer pressure, environmental factors, etc.

Tobacco is especially dangerous to pregnant woman because when they smoke, both the mother’s body and the child’s body is under stress. The child can be born with a development issue or in the worst case scenario, can even die. They may even be born handicapped.

She delved into the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control which Seychelles became a part of in 2005. This ratified convention introduced stricter measures of control for tobacco in the country. It was made illegal to smoke in public places or any enclosed areas. There were even warning signs on actual cigarette boxes, which is still seen today, to deter potential smokers. In addition, the most drastic measure was the banning of any sort of advertising for cigarettes.

A study done on October 31, 2016 from the Ministry of Health showed that tobacco use is the leading cause of preventable mortality and morbidity, killing around 7 million people a year worldwide and being a main cause of morbidity. Nearly 80% of the more than 1 billion smokers worldwide live in low‐ and middle‐income countries (LMICs).

The findings from the report showed that the prevalence of students smoking at least one cigarette on at least 1 day during the past 30 days decreased between 2015 (overall 15%; 20% boys and 10% girls), 2007 (21%; 23% boys and 20% girls) and 2002 (30% boys and 24% girls). The prevalence of ever cigarette smokers decreased between 2015 (overall: 38.3%; 44.4% boys and 32.4% girls), 2007 (48.4% 54.1% boys and 42.4% girls), and 2002 (50.6%; 55.7% boys and 45.9% girls). In 2015, 30% of students had been exposed to cigarette smoke at home during the past 7 days (28% boys and 33% girls), which is lower than in 2007 (42%; 38% boys and 46% girls) and in 2002 (43%; 39% boys and 45% girls). In 2015, 41% of students had been exposed to cigarette smoke inside enclosed public places during the past 7 days (39% of boys and 43% of girls). This prevalence was lower than in 2007 (57%; 54% boys and61% girls) and in 2002 (60%; 59% boys and 61% girls).

A number of preventive measures are being done to prevent children from ever falling into smoking, such as educational campaigns, therapeutic talks and programmes to help those who might have found themselves falling into the habit of smoking.

Additionally, things like increasing tax and the overall price of cigarettes means that less people buy it for consumption.

Another bigger report which was done in 2013-2014 showed that smoking had been reduced by 30%.

Ms Viswanathan stated that her unit’s goal is to ideally bring that number to 0%.


Sunny Esparon

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