World No Tobacco Day exposes tactics to create new generation of smokers

An initiative of the World Health Organization (WHO). World No Tobacco Day is a day of global awareness that takes place annually on May 31 with this year’s event focused on debunking myths around smoking and exposing the tactics employed by tobacco industries to create new generations of smokers in young individuals.

According to WHO, there are 1.3 billion tobacco users worldwide – in Australia, around 2.6 million adults or nearly 14% of over-18s are daily smokers – with the highly-addictive habit taking a life every four seconds on average, a loss of patronage that means the industry must create new generations of tobacco users to remain viable.

In Australia, strict legislation surrounds the marketing and sales of tobacco products exist, including:

– bans on advertising that may encourage or persuade individuals to smoke or use tobacco products,

– plain packaging laws,

– laws on smoking in public, and

– age limits for purchasing tobacco products.

In addition, the Government taxes cigarettes as a means of making them less affordable with the aim of discouraging uptake and/or continued use.

Within the mouth, smoking, whether that involves cigarettes, cigars or cigarillos, chewing betel quid, smoking a shisha, having a joint mixed with tobacco, chewing tobacco, or using smokeless tobacco with products like snuff taken nasally or orally, can lead to oral cancer, oral potentially malignant disorders such as leukoplakia (white patches on the soft tissue inside the mouth) or erythroplakia (red patches), heart disease, stroke, and chest and lung diseases.

Smoking also increases the risk of users developing periodontitis. The few theories on how smoking causes periodontitis, include:

1. smoking may result in the shift to more pathogenic microflora,

2. smoking impairs the body’s immune response, making a smoker more susceptible to bacterial infection,

3. the vasoconstrictive effect of tobacco smoke and nicotine may reduce gingival blood flow and impair oxygen and nutrient delivery to gingival tissue.

With Australia’s Oral Health Tracker 2020 reporting an approximate 10% increase in adults with periodontal disease in a 12-year period, the ADA is urging Australians to take steps to reduce and quit smoking, an act which will improve their oral and general health as well as the health of everyone around them.

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