Cigarettes contain at least 70 substances that can lead to cancer – there are over 4,700 toxic components in them – and consumption thereof is the leading cause of lung, mouth and pharynx cancer. They are also associated with hyper-tension and diabetes. It is estimated that no fewer than 90% of lung cancer deaths are related to abusage of tobacco.
Out of its consciousness that prevention is the best route for fighting diseases, the Cancer Foundation has been seriously engaged, ever since its creation, in the struggle against tobacco abusage. It actively participates in actions for mobilizing civil society against the tobacco industry and conducts campaigns concerning the evils of cigarette consumption, chiefly on social networks.
In more than 20 years of activities and struggles, the institution has made a major contribution to cutting the percentage of smokers in the Brazilian population from almost a third (32%) in 1989 to well under a sixth (14.7%) in 2013. Despite this impressive victory, the latter percentage still represents a cigarette consumer market of almost 21.5 million dependents. The latest figures are the results of the National Health Survey conducted by the Brazilian Ministry of Health (MS), the Oswaldo Cruz Foundation (Fiocruz) and the Brazilian Statistics Bureau (IBGE).
Despite the steep reduction in the number of smokers, the battle for compliance with and enhancement of legislation in this regard requires ongoing actions. The Foundation has been active for over two decades in partnership with INCA, contributing to the development of public policies for control of tobacco abusage, such as environments that are 100% free of tobacco, prohibition against additives in tobacco products, restrictions on advertising, increased taxes on the products, insertion and enhancement of images and health warnings on packages, among other such initiatives.
The nation’s conquests in the struggle against cigarettes are in keeping with the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, the first international health treaty, which includes Brazil among its 168 signatories. The Framework Convention calls for measures for controlling the consumption of tobacco products, out of its understanding that tobacco abusage is a world-wide epidemic. According to the WHO, smoking threatens a third of the world’s population and in 2012 dependence upon tobacco was the determining cause of over 13.7 thousand deaths per day.
Parallel to its coordination with entities of the nation’s civil society and pressure for advancement of legislation, the Cancer Foundation has been investing in surveys aimed at monitoring and appraising public tobacco control policies, contributing to the planning of actions at both the local and nation-wide levels.
Furthermore, the Cancer Foundation’s Health Promotion team offers training modules for companies and municipalities in how to go about setting up healthy working environments that are tobacco-free. Such consulting work involves adaptation to federal legislation, as well as helping whole groups quit smoking, conducting situational diagnoses, training people and conducting follow-ups on actions taken.