Cigarette smoking is rated as the number one risk factor for lung cancer that kills millions of people annually across the world, according to Director of Non-Communicable Diseases (NCD) and Mental Health, Dr. Alie H. Wurie. He has also call for a ban on advertisement of tobacco products and increased tax levy on the product.
Dr. Wurie was speaking during a presser held at the Ministry of Health and Sanitation Conference Hall, Youyi Building in Freetown, last week while updating journalists on the commemoration of World Cancer Day on Sunday, 4th February.
"Cancer is one of the leading causes of morbidity and mortality worldwide with approximately fourteen million new cases in 2012, and research shows that the number of new cases is expected to rise by about 70% over the next two decades. Research has also shown that cancer is the second leading cause of death globally and was responsible for 8.8 million deaths in 2015 globally and nearly one in six deaths is due to cancer and approximately 70% of death from cancer occur in the low and middle income countries," explained Dr. Wurie.
He reiterated that research has revealed that around one-third of deaths from cancer are due to the five leading behavioural and dietary risk - tobacco use, high body mass index, low fruit and vegetable intake, lack of physical activity, and alcohol use.
"Tobacco use was said to be the most important risk factor for cancer and is responsible for approximately 22% of cancer deaths worldwide and people who smoke cigarettes are 15 to 30 times more likely to get lung cancer or die from lung cancer than people who do not smoke," he said.
"Cigarette smoking can cause cancer almost anywhere in the body, including cancer of the mouth and throat, esophagus, stomach, colon, rectum, liver, pancreas, voicebox (larynx), trachea, bronchus, kidney and renal pelvis, urinary bladder, and cervix, and causes acute myeloid leukemia."
According to Dr. Wurie, a Bill is already at the Law Officers Department, Office of the Attorney General and Minister of Justice, which aim is to ban all advertisement of tobacco and increase taxation on tobacco products.
He said the Bill, if passed into law, would also ban public smoking, thus calling on the public to start putting 'no smoking' notices on the walls of their offices and houses.