About 20% of Iranian youths tend to use tobacco products, according to government health official; 50,000 people in country die annually from smoking

June 2, 2014 () – Each cigarette shortens the life of smokers by eight minutes, said a member of the Association of Tobacco and Cigarette Research.

Nassir Dehqan added that Iran has over 10 million tobacco smokers, 50,000 of whom die of diseases caused by smoking annually.

The official said about 20 percent of Iranian youths tend to use tobacco products and this is very alarming to health officials.

"There are some 1.5 billion tobacco smokers in the world," he said, "and 6.3 million die of tobacco use annually."

Dehqan said tobacco smoking causes numerous life-threatening diseases, including diabetes, cancer, heart attack, breathing disorders, psychological diseases and preterm delivery.

"Quitting cigarette will help reduce smoking-related deaths and diseases significantly," he said.

Dehqan pointed out that studies show the risk of heart attack will decline by one-third after one year of quitting.

"After three or fours years of smoking cessation, the risk of heart disease and stroke will be similar to that of non-smokers," he said.

The official also said effective measures have been undertaken to reduce tobacco smoking in the country in recent years, including printing graphic warnings on cigarette packs, producing TV programs about risk of smoking and banning cigarette smoking in public places.

Dehqan urged parents to make their children familiar with health risks of tobacco smoking, pointing out that this culture should be promoted.

Tobacco use diminishes health throughout an individual's lifetime and these effects accumulate throughout adulthood, resulting in preventable illness and, all too often, premature death.

Nicotine is most efficiently delivered through smoking, resulting in death to nearly half of lifetime users.

Tobacco companies have introduced products marketed in a manner that implies they are "safer", but research indicates that there is no completely safe form of tobacco.

Smoking cigarettes, including cigarettes with low tar as measured by a machine, has been scientifically proven to harm nearly every organ in the body and to increase morbidity and mortality.

Smokeless tobacco products also increase the risk of oral cancers, and smokers of cigars, pipes and water pipes also experience serious adverse health consequences.

People start smoking for different reasons. Many people take up the habit as teenagers because they think it makes them look sophisticated, or because their friends and family members smoke. In any case, most people never anticipate becoming addicted and unable to stop.

Studies show those who kick the habit of smoking before age 40 reduce the risk of death associated with continued smoking by about 90 percent.

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