About the Dangers of Smoking

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By Surihe Gaomas WINDHOEK “Go Ahead Put Another Nail in Your Coffin – Smoking Kills”, was the dramatic message from the Cancer Association of Namibia to sensitise the public about the dangers of smoking on International No Smoking Day yesterday. On display was an actual coffin and cigarette packets on the side. As much as this might have been construed by some as a negative way of driving the message home, the fact of the matter remains that smoking does kill. Every time a person smokes a cigarette, one inhales up to 4 000 different chemicals. These are considered highly toxic substances that cause cancer and heart disease. Not only does this bad habit discolour one’s teeth, it also spoils personal appearance, gives bad breath and wrinkles, and hair and clothes smell. Most importantly, smoking can eventually kill. Speaking to New Era at the anti-smoking exhibition in Windhoek, newly appointed Director of the Cancer Association of Namibia Reinette Koegelenberg said smoking is the leading cause of cancer in the country after skin cancer. The Cancer Association of Namibia (CAN) has therefore found it necessary to make the general public aware of the dangers of smoking. Koegelenberg said that second-hand or passive smoking is just as bad as smoking, as it has harmful effects on those closest to the smoker particularly young children and unborn babies. In an effort to address this general public health concern, the Minister of Health and Social Services Dr Richard Kamwi presented a No Smoking Bill in Parliament late last year, calling for the total banning of smoking in public places. This is viewed as a step in the right direction because it will help promote proper health issues and also enhance the Cancer Association’s awareness campaigns. Through distributing pamphlets and posters yesterday, the Cancer Association officials took their campaign to two major centres of the capital city – at Maerua Mall and at Shoprite in Katutura. This was coupled with the display of a light brown casket that was left open with packets of cigarettes and lighters in order to amplify the message on smoking. Most of the funds generated through collections from the public by the association are used to assist all cancer sufferers in the country, through the purchase of wheelchairs, beds and sheep skins that make life a little more comfortable when it comes to bedsores due to skin cancer. A short play directed by Peter Kapirika was also staged by 10 young volunteers from the Young Women Christian Association (YWCA). “We want to portray how poverty can also be caused by smoking cigarettes,” said Kapirika. He noted that in most cases, people resort to buying cigarettes with the last N$15 instead of buying much needed bread, sugar and maize-meal for the family. He said the bad habit of smoking ultimately leads people into poverty while young people resort to this trend out of peer pressure. “But as for the young people smoking is not cool at all and you must have the power to say no to this,” he insisted. May 31 is marked every year as International No Smoking Day.