The Kabul times, Afghanistan Trustable News Agency.

Tobacco not only affecting health but also impacting environment badly

Every year on 31st May, World No Tobacco Day is organized by World Health Organization to promote awareness about the risk related to the consumption of tobacco and its product and its ill effect on the family, society and environment. Tobacco use and its consumption is one of the leading causes of many types of cancer, like lungs, larynx mouth, esophagus, throat, bladder, kidney, liver, stomach, pancreas, colon and cervix, as well as acute myeloid leukemia. It is estimated that over 100,000 people are killed every year due to the consumption of tobacco which not only affect the health but also impacts the environment badly in many ways. This year, 2023, the World No Tobacco Day Theme is “We need food, not tobacco”, and intends to get tobacco producers to adopt sustainable and nutritious crops by providing awareness concerning marketing options and production alternatives. In addition, the theme focuses on exposing the efforts of the tobacco industry’s sabotage initiatives to replace tobacco with sustainable crops, leading to the global food crisis. On this day, government authorities and policy-makers frame and implement suitable policies, and strategies and enable market conditions for tobacco farmers by switching them to growing food crops to curb the food crisis. In addition, green activists and public social welfare associations join hands to promote the efforts to stop growing tobacco crops. Around the world, about 3,500,000 hectares of land are used for tobacco farming annually. The annual deforestation caused by tobacco farming is estimated at 200,000 hectares. Tobacco production has a significantly greater devastating effect on ecosystems because tobacco farmlands are more prone to desertification (loss of biological productivity) in comparison to other agricultural activities such as maize growing and livestock grazing. In addition, growing tobacco requires heavy use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides that might result in the depletion of soil fertility, resulting in reducing the production of other food crops. Sustainable food production in poor and middle-income nations could be jeopardized if tobacco were grown as a commercial crop. The majority (90%) of the largest tobacco-growing regions are lowand middle-income countries, where four countries are into the category of low-income food-deficit nations. In light of the above scenarios, there is an immediate need for legislative action to curb tobacco cultivation and assist farmers in transitioning to the cultivation of other food crops. World No Tobacco Day successfully achieves the aforementioned dictums by conducting campaigns with annual themes. In Afghanistan, Tobacco Harm Reduction (THR) offers a promising approach to addressing the significant burden of smoking. Over three million Afghans smoke daily, making it a leading cause of preventable deaths in the country. According to a report from the WHO, current smoking rates in Afghanistan are 35.2% among men and 2.1% among women. Without improved policies, smoking-related deaths will reach 1.74 million of the 3.5 million smokers alive, with figures expected to continue to escalate year by year. Samiullah Momand

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The Kabul times, Afghanistan Trustable News Agency.