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8m deaths yearly from tobacco worldwide – Anatomy professor

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A Professor of Anatomy at the University of Ilorin, Gabriel Olaiya Omotoso has identified tobacco smoking as a leading cause of preventable death and disease worldwide, saying that it “causes more than 8 million deaths yearly”.

While delivering the 259th inaugural lecture of the university, Omotoso said that the latest global estimate of tobacco users is 1.25 billion people, 80 per cent of which are in low- and middle-income countries.

In the inaugural lecture, titled, ‘White Matter Matters in the Search for Phytochemical Candidates for Demyelinating Disorders’, the don posited that out of the eight million yearly deaths from tobacco usage, “1.3 million are non-smokers exposed to second-hand smoke”.

Omotoso, who lectures in the Department of Anatomy of the Faculty of Basic Clinical Sciences at the College of Health Sciences, University of Ilorin, however, lamented that “despite a great deal of health education and awareness on the grave implications of cigarette smoking, many people are still caught in the web of the habit, pointing out that in Nigeria for instance, 10 per cent of the population smoke tobacco daily”.

The don identified some adverse consequences of cigarette smoke on different organs of the body as including its adverse effects on male gonads and reproduction/fertility, adding that passive cigarette smoke also detrimentally affects adult brains.

To curb the menace of cigarette smoke, Omotoso stressed “the need for all of us to arise and protect our children from tobacco industry interference”.

The inaugural lecturer also called on the government to enforce tobacco production laws in the country, stressing the need for the government to “take a cue from other countries, such as New Zealand, United Kingdom and Australia to effect this”.

Noting the urgent need of public enlightenment to educate the society about the harmful effect of cigarette smoke, Omotoso underscored the need to improve access to diagnostic tools to mitigate the challenge of disease diagnosis in the country.

Pointing out that “tobacco smoking, whether actively or passively, is deadly”, he said it should be avoided like a plague.

He specifically advised pregnant women or women planning to have pregnancy to avoid tobacco exposure.

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