Smoking causes more than 13 thousand deaths annually in Cuba

HAVANA, May 31st  (PL)  More than 13 thousand people die each year in Cuba due to active smoking, equivalent to 32 deaths a day and two each hour, it was learned today.

Data from the 2019 National Health Survey showed that one in five Cubans aged 15 years and over smokes in the country, which is equivalent to 21.6 percent of the population, about two million 14,460 people.

As a consequence of passive consumption, four non-smokers aged 35 and over die in the archipelago every 24 hours, only from associated diseases, such as ischemic heart disease and lung cancer, the text indicates.

Likewise, the mean years of smoking in addicts of this habit was 30.6 years with about 15.5 cigarettes every day, and the average age of the onset of this habit, 17.4 years, both in urban and rural areas.

Speaking to the online newspaper Cubadebate, on the occasion of celebrating World No Tobacco Day on this day, the epidemiologist Patricia Varona said that the biggest problem is the beginning of adolescents and young people in this habit at a lower age.

“These groups are the safe replacement for future adult smokers. At this key stage, the influence of the social environment is vital so that minors do not start with this harmful practice”, added the also member of the National Technical Advisory Commission for the Prevention and Control of Smoking in Cuba.

Regarding the reasons why adolescents start using tobacco, the specialist highlighted as main the reaffirmation of independence, search for acceptance in the group, advancing adulthood and the imitation of close models or whom they admire.

Although the Caribbean country has a national network of health care, promotion and prevention services, with alternatives for smoking cessation, only 9.0 percent of those surveyed up to 2019 showed a desire to give up the habit.

With the arrival of COVID-19, smoking also became a risk factor for developing complications from the pandemic.

According to Varona, several scientific results have shown that smoking can trigger a worse progression of the infection and increase the chances of reaching an intensive care unit throughout the disease.

The 2019 National Health Survey also explored for the first time in Cuba the possible support or rejection of the population to laws that prohibit smoking and 92 percent of those surveyed declared in favour of its implementation, without differences by area, sex or age groups, highlighted the specialist.