By Mel Libre

In time for the commemoration of the World No Tobacco Day, the World Health Organization (WHO) released a strongly-worded attack against manufacturers and distributors of tobacco products.

It said: The tobacco companies continue to put profits before life; their own expansion before the health of future generations; their own economic gain ahead of the sustainable development of struggling countries.

It seems like the problems caused by tobacco products will not go away so easily. WHO even considers tobacco addiction as having grown into a global epidemic.

My son, Kim Angelo, made a research on tobacco addiction and delivered his findings before his peers at the Auckland University of Technology. I browsed through his paper and was somewhat touched by his introduction: Three years ago, I was in my grandfather’s room and I saw him lying on his bed. My grandfather (Angel Libre Jr.) was a chain smoker and he suffered from lung cancer. The doctor said it (the cancer) was already in its final stage. One night, I was assigned to watch out for him, he was coughing, vomiting, in pain and was not able to sleep well. It was for me a miserable and heartbreaking experience. I felt really useless because I wanted his disease to disappear. After a few days, he was sent to a hospital for chemotherapy. Unfortunately, he was not able to tolerate the pain. My grandfather died in the hospital with this condition. This essay is dedicated to him and to people who are unaware of the dangers of smoking.

The essay made mention of the ill-effects of tobacco and cigarette smoking, such as lung cancer, heart problems, chronic bronchitis and arthritis, among others. It enumerated the dangerous substances in tobacco smoke, such as nicotine, carbon monoxide and cancer-producing substances, such as tar.

One clincher in the report was a quote from Patrick Reynolds, whose grandfather founded the tobacco company that manufactures Camel, Winston and Salem: My grandfather chewed tobacco and died of cancer. My father smoked heavily and died of emphysema. My mother smoked and had emphysema and heart disease. My aunts died of emphysema and cancer.

Currently, three of my older brothers who smoke have emphysema. I smoked for ten years and have small-airways lung disease.

In response to the relentless anti-smoking campaign, cigarette manufacturers have countered by promoting and selling new products, which WHO claims are disguised under healthier names, fruity flavors or more attractive-looking packaging.

The line has long been drawn between anti-smoking organizations and cigarette companies and neither seems to be winning. The biggest losers, though, are the smokers and the youth who think smoking is harmless and cool.

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