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Tobacco Consumption as a Global Public Health Concern


Tobacco use threatens the current and future world’s health. Globally, various researches show that there are about one billion smokers. The WHO (2008) points out that nearly 6 million people all over the world die as a result of tobacco-related illnesses. The organization further reports that by 2030, the number would rise to 8 million each year with close to 80% of these deaths occurring in developing and under-developed countries. However, tobacco does not always affect those who smoke. Even non-smoker face high risks of related illnesses. Thus, the governments all over the world have an important role to play in the control of tobacco smoking. Countries have hence taken the time to recognize tobacco smoking as to be dangerous to humanity by implementing strong anti-tobacco legislation.

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Etiology, Incidence, and Prevalence of Tobacco Use

Tobacco consumption is among one of the top avoidable causes of death in the world today (Drope, 2011). It is the only drug that is known to kill both its users and non-users. As harmful effects of its use are growing, so is the list of conditions associated with its consumption. Nowadays, diseases such as pneumonia, leukemia, cataracts, cancer, and abdominal aortic among others result from cigarette smoking (Warren et al, 2008). This list joins with the known list of illnesses related to smoking such as lung and throat cancer, cardiovascular and pulmonary diseases, and reproductive system damages (Warren et al., 2008). Despite the dangers associated with tobacco consumption, its use continues to rise. The reason behind this high rate of use is due to the huge market expansion of tobacco industries and weak tobacco control policies and legislation in many countries.

Nearly 6 million people all over the world die as a result of the illnesses caused by cigarette smoking (World Health Organization, 2008). The WHO organization further admits that by 2030, the number will grow to 8 million annually with close to 80% of these deaths happening in developing and third world countries. Throughout the world, about a one third of the adults are exposed indirectly to tobacco smoking. Additionally, over 700 million children globally suffer from tobacco smoke being whether at home or in public. Nearly 600,000 premature deaths per year in the world result from environmental (second-hand) tobacco smoke. 31% of these deaths refer to children and 64% to women.

How the Prevalence of Tobacco Use Affects Public Health Policy

The burden from diseases and deaths caused by tobacco use is onerous for public health. The magnitude of tobacco smoking crisis in the world stems from its high prevalence and great amount of health problems associated with it. Over the past 50 years, the world has experienced the drastic changes in tobacco consumption due to the effective role of public policy and programs aimed at reducing tobacco use and exposure (Warren et al, 2008). Globally, countries seek the ways to decrease the demand for this product by increasing the cost of production through taxation. Other policies that are planned to be implemented include smoke-free programs and banning any form of advertising through the print sources and media (Jawad et al, 2013). However, with all these efforts to reduce the prevalence of tobacco use, the impact of these policies and program is yet to be felt. Lack of resources and low awareness especially in developing countries limits tobacco control measures.

Application of the Nine Aims for Public Health Quality Improvement

For a country to succeed in reducing the prevalence of cigarette smoking, it has to provide an enormous care geared towards the nine aims for improving quality in public health (Sollecito & Johnson, 2013). First and foremost, the concern given to victims should be population-centered. Routine epidemiological studies and programs should be conducted to determine the impact of tobacco on the health of population. Second, public healthcare should be equally provided to all affected by tobacco use regardless of their race, gender or age. Third, quality care should be proactive. Governments should implement health education and risk reduction programs directed towards decreasing of tobacco consumption. Fourth, public care services should be health promoting. It should give room for improvement and enhance positive healthy habits. Fifth, quality care should be risk reducing. For instance, banning advertising of cigarettes reduce their usage. Sixth, health services should be vigilant in supporting, enhancing, and evaluating existing practices that reduce the level of tobacco-related illnesses. Seventh, care should be transparent in that it should be open to the public. Reports and findings should not have any hidden agendas. Eighth, the care should be effective. Governments should implement nationally based programs to people affected by tobacco. They should justify their results through the evidences. Last, care should be efficient to produce the desired outcomes. The costs associated with treating tobacco cases should be documented and kept in a safe place for future reference.

Priority Areas for Improving Public Health Quality

Governments and other professionals involved in public health matters need to revitalize their efforts, so as to move towards a healthier population. Sollecito & Johnson (2013) unveil five priority areas of quality improvement in public health. According to them, it is important to make care safer. By the way, healthcare related mistakes harm many patients each and every year all over the world. The World Health Organization (2008) underlines that nearly 1.7 million health associated infections occur annually due to unsafe practices. Healthcare professionals should, therefore, strive to create reliable systems that seek to provide a quality healthcare help for everyone. The other priority area in improving public health quality is to ensure that care is person- and family-centered. Health services delivery in the world is not always designed to meet the needs of patients. This approach should change, in that, patients and their families should play an active role in their treatments. Care should also accommodate the cultural differences, education level, backgrounds, and languages of those affected. The third priority area to improve the quality of public health is by promoting and coordinating care. When those in charge of healthcare coordinate their efforts, patients get the help they need on time. The fourth area of priority to improve is in preventing and treating chronic diseases. Governments need to do better in prevention and management of diseases that lead to higher mortality rates. Another area to change a quality care is to work with communities on the ground to promote the best practices for healthy living. Governments should, therefore, consider the ways of reducing health expenses and seek the ways how to expand an access to better care to all its citizens. Initiatives that countries can take to offer an affordable quality care is through establishing health insurance policies and by fostering innovations for promoting a quality care at minimum costs.

How the Evolution of Quality Public Health Affected the Global Tobacco Issue

As much as tobacco consumption is a concern to public health, it is no doubt that the evolution of quality care has caused much difference in the world. Tobacco use was first associated with lung cancer in the 1950s (Cairney et al, 2012). During that period, smokers smoked unfiltered cigarettes. The government has done a lot to enhance awareness about the dangers of smoking tobacco which led to the introduction of filters in cigarettes. Additionally, a change in smoking patterns is traced by examining the influence of public health policies in the past years. For instance, in 1971, the US government imposed some restrictions and bans on tobacco advertising on television, radios and billboards. Additionally, countries over the years have put more efforts in restricting the sales of the drug to adolescents. Moreover, with an evolution in quality health care, people are no longer allowed to smoke in public places.

Quality Improvement Efforts in Reducing the Prevalence of Tobacco

Comprehensive tobacco control measures save people’s lives, improve health, reduce healthcare costs, and increase productivity. In maximizing on quality of health care, governments must adapt and implement Tobacco control acts and legislation. These measures will seek to prevent, stop, and eliminate the use and exposure of tobacco on the community level. Additionally, nations need to raise their awareness of the dangers associated with cigarette smoking through conducting public education and outreach programs. The government should also improve the quality of care by initiating the programs that extend insurance covers to those that are affected by tobacco-related illnesses. Moreover, it is important for those responsible for healthcare to conduct an evaluation to measure the effectiveness and impact of tobacco policies within the state.

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Significant Tobacco Policy Changes

Tobacco control acts and other government intervention aims at preventing people from its consumption, helps people quit smoking, and eliminates its harmful effects. There are many significant tobacco control policies and efforts that left a mark in the world. For instance, some remarkable tobacco policies in the USA include the Federal Cigarette Labeling and Adverting act in 1965 that required all tobacco products to have health warning labels. Additionally, in 1970, the country introduced the Public Health Cigarette Smoking Act which prohibited the advertising of tobacco products. Another significant change in the USA tobacco policies was the introduction of the Comprehensive Smokeless Tobacco Health Education Act that required the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), the Federal Trade Commission, and the smokeless industry to issue annual reports on tobacco and cigarette-related issues. In 2009, the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act allowed the government to carry out a regular check and inspection of tobacco retailers and manufacturers.

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