Smoking is a chronic, relapsing and addictive disease which is currently the main public health problem and the main cause of avoidable death in Andalusia. It is implicated in the origin of a large number of cardiovascular, respiratory and oncological diseases, although practically no organ or system of the human body escapes its potential damage.
On the occasion of World Lung Cancer Day, the Regional Ministry of Health and Families is reminding people of the importance of giving up smoking and eating a healthy diet as key measures in the prevention of this pathology, which is largely caused by smoking. The latter forms part of the objectives of both the Andalusian Strategy for the Promotion of a Healthy Lifestyle and the Andalusian Cancer Strategy, promoted by the Directorate General for Public Health and Pharmaceutical Organisation.
Globally, it causes more than 8,000,000 deaths worldwide, some 7,000,000 due to direct consumption and 1,200,000 due to involuntary exposure to second-hand smoke. It is estimated that in 2030 it will exceed ten million, with the aggravating factor that many of these deaths are premature, generating a significant loss of years of life and quality of life. If consumption patterns continue on current trends, the number of deaths over the course of this century will exceed 1 billion people, including 250 million deaths from lung and other cancers.
Tobacco is a cancer-inducing agent and is the leading cause (25-30%) of all cancers and also the leading cause of cancer mortality (about 30% of cancer deaths are due to tobacco). This is because more than 7,000 substances have been identified in tobacco smoke, including more than 60 substances listed as class 1 or class 2 carcinogens by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), such as nitrosamines, benzene, 4-aminobiphenyl, ethylene oxide, polonium, nickel, arsenic, etc.
Smoking is involved in the genesis and development of a very large number of cancers, starting with lung cancer (which is undoubtedly the most directly related) and continuing with those of the nasal cavity, nasopharynx, oropharynx, larynx, oesophagus, stomach, liver, pancreas, colorectal, kidney, bladder, female genital tract and breast in terms of solid organs, as well as acute leukaemias, at the haematological level. With regard to prostate cancer, it is also known that heavy smokers may have a 24% to 30% higher risk of dying from cancer than non-smokers. Smoking is also associated with increased recurrence and mortality.
Actions in the fight against cancer
The Andalusian Cancer Strategy, which will be developed over the next three years, drawn up by the Directorate General for Public Health and Pharmaceutical Organisation of the Regional Ministry of Health and Families, with the methodological support of the IAVANTE line of the Progreso y Salud Foundation and in collaboration with the Andalusian Health Service, includes five essential lines of intervention: prevention, promotion and early diagnosis; adult care; child and adolescent care; humanisation of health care for cancer patients and palliative care; and epidemiology, information system and documentation. The most outstanding within the area of promotion, prevention and early diagnosis is the promotion of activities for the promotion of a healthy lifestyle in the educational, work and local environment and to collaborate synergistically with the Andalusian Comprehensive Plan on Smoking.
Likewise, it is a priority to promote actions that encourage the cessation of tobacco consumption, in any of its forms (conventional cigarettes, rolling tobacco, heated tobacco, hookahs, etc.), as well as to prevent children and adolescents from taking up smoking. To this end, actions are carried out at various levels in Andalusia. Thus, the Forma Joven programme of the Directorate General of Public Health and Pharmaceutical Regulation works to provide Andalusian young people and adolescents with detailed information on those aspects related to tobacco and the risks it poses to their health. Through these advisories, this population has been alerted to both the dangers of tobacco consumption and the positive effects of not consuming it.