World No Tobacco Day – Round table on the harms of smoking

The medical platform organized, on Wednesday May 25, 2022, a round table on the harmful effects of smoking on the occasion of World No Tobacco Day, which is celebrated annually on May 31.

The event was held in the presence of medical specialist Dhaker Lahidheb, cardiologist and former professor at the Faculty of Medicine of Tunis and at the Military Hospital, Zoubeir Chater, specialist in medical dietetics and Ridha Ben Arif, specialist in pneumology- asthma- allergology- bronchial endoscopy.

Doctors shared with the public the latest findings and research related to the number one cause of preventable illness and death in Tunisia. Discussions focused specifically on the evolution of the prevalence of smoking before reviewing control policies and their evaluation as well as therapeutic strategies recommended in helping weaning and other less harmful alternatives to quit. smoking like vaping. and heated tobacco.

Smoking in Tunisia

Smoking causes more than 13,200 deaths per year in Tunisia, or 20% of all deaths in the country, resulting in high costs for the health system and huge economic losses. In 2019 alone, these annual losses include 146 million dinars of health spending, and 1.9 billion dinars of indirect economic losses due to premature deaths and health problems as well as “cigarette butts” At work.

The 2016 Tunisian health survey revealed that 22.3% of adults smoke and they consume almost a pack of cigarettes per day. According to figures from the World Bank, the smoking rate in Tunisia for 2018 is 26%, a decrease of 1.1% compared to 2016. In 2016, it was 27.10%, a decrease of 1 5% compared to 2014. However , Tunisia is positioned as a country with a high level of smoking compared to Egypt with 21.4% or Morocco with 14.7%. According to the 2019 WHO report on smoking, the prevalence of smoking among Tunisian men is 43.3% compared to 2% for women, placing it in the top 10 countries where the prevalence of male smoking is the highest in the world.

Scientists agree that action against smoking will prevent 55,500 deaths, 5.3 billion dinars in economic losses by 2035 and save 405 million dinars in health costs.

Ways to accompany and help with smoking cessation

It has become clear that medical assistance is at the forefront of any removal policy with a high chance of success. This approach has the advantage of creating and maintaining motivation for change. Cognitive-behavioral therapies and other supportive tools are essential to ensure that the patient removal effort is as successful as possible. ” In the first step, it is important to call the smoker to stop. The advice is even more impactful when it comes to a scientist who highlights the harmful effects of smoking and warns against the harmful health effects of cigarettes. In the second step, the smoker should be medically cared for in a regular and specific manner according to his level of addiction and his health characteristics. said pulmonologist Ridha Ben Arif.

Specializing in medical dietetics, Zoubeir Chater added for his part that the support provided to the patient forms the basis of care and the severity of nicotine dependence makes it possible to determine the level of Nicotinic Substitution Treatment (NRT). ” This solution significantly reduces the desire to smoke, helps relieve withdrawal symptoms and helps prevent relapses due to addiction. he explained.

Reduction and temporary cessation of consumption

The world population of smokers will reach 1 billion people by 2025 according to WHO forecasts. This number is a real challenge for international organizations campaigning to reduce the impact of smoking both on populations and on sustainable development.

The WHO estimates that the economic costs of tobacco use are large, that it is the sum of the substantial costs involved in treating diseases caused by tobacco use and the human capital lost due to morbidity and mortality that associated with tobacco.

If smoking cessation is essential to regaining good health, the reduction may be an “intermediate” stage for smokers who are not immediately ready to quit smoking and may give daily nicotine use to another. form to prevent cigarette toxicity.

In the UK, for example, Public Health England (PHE) recommends electronic cigarettes as a safer alternative to traditional cigarettes. ” It would be pathetic if thousands of smokers who could quit smoking with the help of an e-cigarette were discouraged by false concerns about safety. We need to reassure smokers that switching to e-cigarettes is less harmful than smoking. John Newton, director of health improvement at PHE, told English media.

This replacement treatment makes it easier for smokers to consider quitting, or even reduce their consumption before quitting completely. Another country known for reducing cigarette consumption thanks to heated tobacco is Japan. The country has become a model for reducing tobacco harms by reducing its cigarette sales by nearly a third in the three to four years since the introduction of heated tobacco in 2014.

Dhaker Lahidheb said, in this regard, that alternatives to cigarettes such as vaping and heated tobacco constitute “ a risk reduction tool and can be used as a smoking cessation aid for smokers who want to quit added that drugs and nicotine products such as patches are unfortunately not available in Tunisia and that it is not acceptable to ask patients to bring these products from abroad.

Ridha Ben Arif has found that it is easier to quit smoking gradually and that electronic cigarettes can accompany smokers in a process of progressive smoking cessation.

However, it should be noted that alternatives to cigarettes are present in the Tunisian market, but in small size. In Tunisia, electronic cigarette users accounted for only 4% of total smokers in 2019…


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