According to the World Health Organization (WHO), tobacco use is one of the main causes of preventable deaths, with a death toll of 5 million annually and by the year 2020 the figure is expected to exceed 10 million. Global Adult Tobacco Survey (GATS) 2012 report also showed that 5.6% (4.7 million) Nigerians aged 15 years or older used tobacco products.
As part of efforts to stop underage smoking, Action Health Incorporated (AHI) held a one-day smoking prevention programme on June 18, 2015 for students of 12 public secondary schools in Kaduna state. The programme was aimed at promoting the health and well-being of under 19 youths by providing age appropriate information to improve their ability to abstain from underage smoking.
The programme featured presentations on smoking and young people; which provided participants with an overview of smoking in Nigeria, reasons why young people smoke and smoking prevention tips. Also, the students were lectured on the health effects of smoking and saw visual representations of the chemical contents of cigarette, effects on various parts of the body, and how nicotine (one of the chemicals used in cigarette production) could lead young people to become addicted to cigarette use. Among the guest speakers at the event were four ex-smokers who shared their personal experiences of smoking and quitting with the students.
A high point of the event was the selfie session where most of the students wrote their personal messages; making commitments never to smoke and taking a stand against smoking. Some of the messages by the students include; I want to save my life, I will never smoke cigarette #Don’tsmoke; #smoking kills fast because it is dangerous; Let your No be No #Don’tsmoke. In addition, each student received a fact sheet and a poster with visual messages on the effects of cigarette on various part of the body.
At the end of the programme, many of the students mentioned that they have learnt a lot, especially on the health effects of cigarette smoking and will also share the message among their peers and in their communities.
A total of 731 students and 28 teachers from Government Girls Secondary School Maimuna Gwarzo; Rimi College Kaduna ; Sardaunal Memorial College ; Government College Kaduna ; Government Senior Secondary School & Government Junior Secondary School Sabon Tasha ; Government Senior Secondary School & Government Junior Secondary School Nassarawa ; Government Senior Secondary School Television ; Queen Amina College ;Government Senior Secondary School Ugwan Boro ; Government Senior Secondary School & Government Junior Secondary School Ugwan Romi ; Government Secondary School Ugwan Sarki ; Government Secondary School & Government Junior Secondary School Kawo participated in the programme.