Smoking and smoking cessation in Latin America: a review of the current situation and available treatments
Fernando Müller1, Luis Wehbe2
1Universidad Nacional de Buenos Aires and Proyecto Médico Especialista en Dejar de Fumar, Buenos Aires, Argentina; 2Ave Pulmo Smoking Cessation Institute, Mar del Plata, Argentina
Abstract: Tobacco smoking is a growing problem throughout Latin American countries, especially in underdeveloped countries where poverty and lack of education about the dangers of smoking may make people more susceptible to becoming smokers. Moreover, the economies of many Latin American countries have become dependent on the production of tobacco. Furthermore, because of the associated promotion of tobacco, smoking has integrated into many Latin American cultures. Nevertheless, the harmful health effects of tobacco use are well documented, including greatly increased risks of developing chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, cardiovascular disease, and many forms of cancer. The medical costs associated with treating these diseases far outweigh the economic benefits of producing and selling this deadly crop. To control the tobacco pandemic in Latin American countries, nicotine addiction must be recognized and treated as a disease. Governments, both national and local, need to be more involved in enacting anti-smoking policies such as higher tobacco taxation, control of illegal tobacco smuggling, and reimbursement of medical smoking cessation interventions. The training of health professions in the area of nicotine addiction must also be improved, so that they may better assist smokers in their quit attempts and advise patients on, and prescribe, effective smoking cessation pharmacotherapies.
Keywords: smoking, smoking cessation, tobacco, Latin America
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