Health & Living
How second-hand smoke affects you
Posted Thursday, February 14 2013 at 00:00
While many people might only worry about the smell of a lit cigarette or someone smoking it, second-hand smoke can have adverse effects such as lung cancer.
If you are like many people who do not like the smell of tobacco, you will most likely hold your breath while passing by a person who is smoking.
Unlike this priviledge you have and might take for granted, Mr Sean Carroll could not afford to do such a thing. A website tobaccoinaustralia.org.au tells a story of the bus driver in Australia, who did not have a choice. Every day of his life for the 36 years he had the job, he had to drive a bus that had no restrictions on smoking. As a result, Carroll, a non-smoker developed lung cancer from years of passive exposure to tobacco smoke. He sued his employer, the Melbourne Metropolitan Transit Authority. The case was settled out of court, he was compensated $65,000 (Shs173.2m). But we all know this could not be compared to the life he was going to live with lung cancer.
Mr Carroll’s condition was one of the side effects of second hand smoking. Uganda’s law on smoking in public places defines second hand smoke as the smoke exhaled from a person smoking a tobacco product, and includes side-stream smoke which the law defines as the smoke of other emissions released from a tobacco product or the smoke exhaled by a person smoking a tobacco product.
Because little attention has been given to the damage tobacco poses, especially on the passive smoker who does not use it, in Uganda, there is limited documentation of such cases.
Mr Andrew Kwizeera, a member of Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids, says since the fight for the control of tobacco usage in Uganda is new, “There is limited documentation and most of what we have is just recent. But global statistics show that 600,000 people globally are exposed to second hand smoke and in adults, it causes serious cardiovascular and respiratory diseases, including coronary heart disease and lung cancer. In infants, it causes sudden death while in pregnant women, it causes low birth weight.”
Ms Christine Namulindwa, the public relations officer of the Uganda Cancer Institute, says, “The ratio of patients who present with lung cancer at the institute as a result of secondhand smoking is one out of 10.”
The law on public smoking in Uganda
Lung cancer and other side effects of smoking on the non-smokers were raised by the Ugandan public in the early 2000s and this saw the government formulating the National Environment (Control of Smoking in Public Places) Regulations 2004. This is the law being “observed” in Uganda as regards public smoking.
Besides the pressure from the public, this law was formulated as a follow-up on Uganda’s signing of the World Health Organisation’s Framework Convention on Tobacco Control. Formulated by the National Environment Management Authority (Nema), the 11-paged legislation highlights certain issues.
Article 4 states, “No person shall smoke a tobacco product or hold a lighted tobacco product in an enclosed, indoor area of a public place.”
Article 6(1) indicates that, “No person shall smoke in any public service vehicle or in any aircraft, train or other public transport.”
Article 7( 1) says. “The owner of a public place or any public service vehicle or other public transport where smoking is prohibited shall post clearly legible signs, prominently, stating that smoking is not permitted.”
However, the results of this law are yet to be felt as it is not a rare occurrence to pass by someone either smoking in a public place or in an enclosed bar or restaurant.
In an informal survey that was done by this newspaper, in 10 popular bars, and nightclubs around Kampala, most had a No Smoking sign somewhere, and fortunately, people were not allowed to smoke from inside. Those who wanted to smoke would get out to do so.
However, in 25 middle and low class bars we visited, people would smoke freely, inside, without being stopped. Some of these bars even had a No Smoking sign but, people just turned a blind eye and the operators of such places also gave them leeway to smoke since they had ash trays on the tables.
A waitress in one of the nightclubs along Kampala Road who preferred anonymity said they let the patrons smoke from wherever they want to because some of them are popular customers and they give the bar a lot of money. As such, it is hard for the bosses to say anything about what they do.