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8m tobacco smokers die annually says UNILORIN Don



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A Professor of Anatomy at 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”.

He said this while delivering the 259th Inaugural Lecture of the University, 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 8 million yearly deaths from tobacco usage, “1.3 million are non-smokers exposed to second-hand smoke”.

Prof. Omotoso, who lectures in the Department of Anatomy, Faculty of Basic Clinical Sciences, 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, Prof. 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, Prof. Omotoso underscored the need to improve access to diagnostic tools to mitigate the challenge of disease diagnosis in the country.

The don also has some words of advice for the society as a whole. Pointing out that “tobacco smoking, whether actively or passively, is deadly”, Prof. Omotoso said it should be avoided like a plague.

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

On general wellbeing of the people, the Inaugural Lecturer advised nursing mothers to embrace exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months to stimulate mother-baby intimacy and essential brain development of the newborn.
He also enjoined individuals to engage in regular medical check-ups.

Prof. Omotoso also urged the University to continue to emphasise quality of research papers for promotion, saying that “fewer, but exceptional papers in very highly rated journals should attract special consideration”.

He made a special case for the adequate equipment of research laboratories to serve as a motivation for research outputs, adding that the University Research Laboratories must be accessible to researchers 24 hours a day, even during Unions’ industrial actions.