Let’s get active.
Nicotine is a serious threat, so much so that two days each year are set aside to raise awareness of international antismoking initiatives. Those two events are the World No Tobacco Day,1 established in 1988 by the World Health Organization (WHO) and held each year on May 31; and the Great American Smokeout,2 established in 1977 by the American Cancer Society and celebrated on the third Thursday of November. Obviously the international community recognizes that the problem has grown into a pandemic.
Every six seconds on the planet today someone dies from smoking-related causes. Specialists predict that by 2020 an active smoker will die every three seconds.
In Russia 65 percent of men and more than 30 percent of women smoke. About 80 percent of men and 50 percent of women started smoking in their teens. According to WHO, 71 percent of all lung cancer deaths, 75 percent of chronic bronchitis, and 25 percent of coronary heart disease worldwide are caused by smoking.
Adventist church pioneers actually struggled with tobacco addiction as well, and most people even in the medical and scientific communities at the time didn’t believe smoking was harmful. Health education was therefore introduced gradually, first in the church and then in surrounding communities. Today we no longer have to be convinced that nicotine is a poison. But still, more than 1 billion people throughout the world smoke tobacco.3
What to Do?
As Adventist Christians we have the God-given responsibility to promote a healthful lifestyle. But what methods can we utilize to help smokers stop smoking? And how can we encourage those who don’t smoke, not to start?
Perhaps we should look to the youth. Adventist young people are actively involved in antismoking campaigns, and on World No Tobacco Day you can find many of them in city parks displaying an arsenal of colorful banners that read: “My Body—My Home” and “Break the Cigarette Habit Before It Breaks You,” among others. They hold contests, award prizes, and distribute questionnaires on the topic of smoking. On the streets and in malls they hold health expos, where trained health professionals and instructors assess a person’s health age by measuring the level of carbon dioxide in exhaled air, instruct passersby on simple healthful lifestyle principles, provide medical counsel, and so forth.
Those who already live a healthful lifestyle promote not smoking by writing antismoking comments on posters, indicating that they are voting for good health. Near park entrances youth perform skits promoting healthful living. People who express a desire to stop smoking are then invited to attend a Breathe-Free stop-smoking program.
We Seventh-day Adventists should be actively involved in educating people about the harmful effects of smoking and introducing them to stop-smoking programs. We have to do our part to help lower the frightening statistics on tobacco.
In the Euro-Asia Division we are teaching children, in both churches and schools, to say “No!” to tobacco; to choose a totally healthful lifestyle; and to resist the onslaught of negative peer pressure. By having compelling prevention programs and holding public campaigns, we are also showing society how valuable human life is to us—and to God.
Let us carry the torch and fight for the health of our children, our families, and our society.
To learn more, go to the Euro-Asia Division Web site at http://adventist.ru.