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Tuesday, May 31, 2011

It’s World No Tobacco Day

According to the World Health Organization around 6 million people around the world die from tobacco use and exposure to tobacco smoke, which is about six deaths per second. Studies relate sixty three percent of all human mortality to non-communicable diseases (NCD) and tobacco smoking is the greatest risk factor after high blood pressure.

Historically, tobacco smoking has been a custom as early as 5,000 BC. Among European tribes and Native Americans, they use it as an entheogen or psychoactive drug for shamanic or spiritual healing rites. They also use the Calumet or ceremonial smoking pipe to seal covenants or when offering prayer in religious rituals. They believe that tobacco is a gift from the Creator and exhaled tobacco smoke carries their prayers to heaven. It is so ironical today especially that we know the ill effects of tobacco to one’s health.

Tobacco flower and leaf
Tobacco contains a powerful chemical compound called nicotine. Actually, nicotine comes from the name of the tobacco plant Nicotiana Tabacum. It is present in many flowering plants as its defensive protection against herbivores particularly insects. It has been used as an insecticide before.

Tobacco smoking is highly addictive because of the nicotine and monoamine oxidase inhibitors present in it. Studies show that it is even more addictive than cocaine and heroin. According to the American Heart Society, nicotine addiction is the type of addiction that is very hard to break.

Tobacco agriculture is a billion dollar industry in many countries like Brrazil, India, Argentina, Cuba, China and the USA. In USA alone, leaf tobacco exports range around 200,000 tons, approximately valued at about $1.2 billion. Philippines is a minor producer of tobacco.

With the governmental restrictions to tobacco smoking, tobacco farmers receive the biggest blow. It is only right that they get assistance from government in finding alternative crops.

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