22 scientists from 12 countries, including experts from the World Health Organization, Turkey’s Health, Family, Labor and Social Affairs Commission, Country Green Crescent, Florida International University, Canada’s University of Waterloo, attended the two-day online International Tobacco Addiction Congress organized by the Green Crescent. people joined. The opening speech was made by the President of the Green Crescent Prof. Dr. Mücahit Öztürk’s closing speech was delivered by Green Crescent Board Member Dr. Esra Albayrak, current practices and research methods in the fight against tobacco addiction, prevention, intervention and advocacy activities related to tobacco addiction; new risks and dangers, new and developing nicotine and tobacco products were discussed.
The health benefits of quitting smoking, new perspectives and experiences gained in the fight against tobacco addiction, innovative policy, action plan and intervention program proposals in the fight against tobacco addiction were discussed in the Congress, and the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic on tobacco use and smoking behavior were also discussed.
3.2 million people use electronic cigarettes
Starting the opening speech of the congress by explaining that the Green Crescent, with its 102-year history, is one of the most rooted non-governmental organizations in the world in the fight against addictions, Green Crescent President Prof. Dr. Mücahit Öztürk stated that according to the data of the World Health Organization, 8 million people die from respiratory diseases such as nicotine-related cancer, heart attack, stroke and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease every year in the world, “While 65,000 of these deaths are among children, more than 1.2 million are due to passive smoking. is happening. Although the prevalence of smoking has decreased in the last 30 years, depending on the population increase; The total number of smokers worldwide, which was 0.99 billion in 1990, increased to 1.14 billion in 2019. According to the World Health Organization’s 2022 Health Statistics Report, there has been a sharp decrease in tobacco use; In 2020, approximately 22 percent of the world population aged 15 and over used tobacco products. In 2000, this rate was about 33 percent,” he said.
Öztürk drew attention to the dangers of electronic cigarettes as well as tobacco addiction and said, “The world should pay attention to electronic nicotine delivery systems. A total of 111 countries have regulated electronic nicotine delivery systems. 32 countries have banned the sale of electronic nicotine delivery systems. 79 countries have at least one legislative measure to regulate electronic nicotine delivery systems; partially or wholly accepted. In 84 countries, there are no prohibitions or regulations addressing electronic nicotine delivery systems. This leaves them vulnerable to the harms of tobacco and the activities of the industry.”
There are currently 1.3 billion tobacco users
Ruediger Krech from the World Health Organization, who talked about the World Health Organization policies, global achievements and future challenges in the fight against tobacco use, said, “Tobacco control started 50 years ago. It took us decades before we fully realized that something deadly had happened. More than 8 million people die from tobacco use each year, which means 22,000 people a day. This is a public crisis. There are currently 1.3 billion tobacco users. The recently popular electronic cigarette, on the other hand, both maintains the commitment to nicotine and causes more people to start it. This sector is especially trying to get children on their hooks. “It is necessary to ban their advertisements and increase their taxes,” he said.
Electronic cigarette use is more harmful than regular cigarettes
From the World Health Organization Reporting and Information Management, Framework Convention Secretariat on Tobacco Control, Dr. Tibor Szilagyi also referred to the measures to be taken to prevent tobacco use and said, “According to the global strategy, an advertising ban should be implemented all over the world in at least 5 years. When we look at it now, two-thirds of the world has not been able to do this,” he said.
Gazi University Faculty of Pharmacy Prof. Dr. Ismet Cok; He underlined that the wear between the non-flavored electronic cigarette user and the smoker is the same, but that he found a high amount of chemicals in electronic cigarettes where aroma components are used. He said the chemicals in question do more harm to humans than regular cigarettes.
Sharing the findings about people’s point of view on hookah use in his presentation, Green Crescent Scientific Committee Chairman Prof. Dr. Peyami Çelikcan, on the other hand, said, “Last year, we conducted a research prior to our ‘Death on the End’ campaign. The results of this research showed that the use of hookah in individuals aged 18-24 was 7.3 percent, and 88 percent of users preferred aromatic hookahs. While the use of hookah is seen as a means of socialization by people, unfortunately we have also seen that there are legends about hookah in Turkey that have created widespread perceptions in the society. For example, tobacco is cleaned while passing through the water in the hookah, less harmful or completely harmless than cigarettes, traditional, etc. Legends that have no scientific basis are spoken. In fact, 1 hookah causes nicotine consumption equal to 50 cigarettes.”
The tobacco industry harms both our health and our planet
Starting his closing speech by thanking the congress participants and the World Health Organization for the strong cooperation, Green Crescent Board Member Dr. Esra Albayrak, stating that the tobacco industry reaches approximately 1.1 billion consumers every year, said, “Today, the profitability of the tobacco industry reaches 744 billion dollars. States allocate a share of their national wealth to the treatment of diseases caused by tobacco use, which are deadly for those who are exposed to smoke as well as users. Our planet is being poisoned along with our people. Due to tobacco production, 600 billion trees are destroyed every year and tons of water is wasted. The road we have to take against the tobacco industry is arduous and long. Because this organization constantly renews its tactics every year and markets its products in the most aggressive way, continues its efforts to replace those who died due to tobacco use with new consumers. Recently, we see that they have started to progress through corporate social responsibility. While they are dragging people to respiratory diseases, they are also running campaigns where they provide respiratory equipment support. They try to acquit themselves by organizing campaigns called “A Smoke-Free World”. They advocate the harmlessness of electronic and heated cigarettes, presenting information without proof. They are also trying to legalize electronic cigarettes in many countries, including Turkey. We must take a common stance against these efforts. I believe that when we follow tobacco use prevention policies, working in coordination with the stakeholders of the issue will be much more effective and we will find quick solutions. As public health advocates, we must always strive to combat the global tobacco epidemic. Together, we will protect our people and nature.”