Connect with us

Lab technician explains Tobacco Chemicals

Desire B Mhlabi is Laboratory Director at Optimum Health Medical Laboratories.

Q- Kindly break down the chemical compositions in cigarettes in detail and rate the dangers of these substances to humans and their effects.

A – There are over 500 ingredients in cigarettes and when burned, cigarettes create more than 7000 chemicals. Around 70 of these chemicals are known to cause cancer and many are toxic. Ill mention a few of them:
TAR- also used for paving roads.
Nicotine- also used as a pesticide.
Toluene- also used in paint manufacturing.
Lead- also used in batteries.
Carbon monoxide.
Butane/ Benzene / Arsenic Acetic Acid/ Acetone etc.

Q – From a laboratory perspective, how often do you deal with samples of cancers related to tobacco products.

A – Test called Carcinoembryonic Antigen CEA (substance found in blood of people who have colon cancer as well as people who smoke tobacco. CEA is a protein that is normal in developing a foetus but drops to low or non-existent levels after birth. Because CEA isnt typically found in adults, its detection can be related to certain cancers, lung cancer being one of them.

Q – There are new tobacco products which like e-cigarettes, what chemical compositions do they have?

A – Electronic cigarettes (e- cigarettes) often contain ingredients such as propylene, glycol, ethylene glycol and polyethylene glycol mixed with concentrated flavours. Limited studies have evaluated the effects of e- cigarettes on human health. But its been found out that they may contain additional impurities in the liquid or vapour as well as toxins. Current challenges include labelling inconsistent with actual contents e.g. Where its labelled nicotine free some studies using liquid chromatography (HPLC) has demonstrated availability of nicotine in so called nicotine free samples.

Q – The tobacco control bill seeks to protect non-smokers by creating a safe environment in the work place, public places and so forth. How much chemicals can be puffed into air by smokers and are they deadly?

A – Passive smoking means breathing in other people’s tobacco smoke. Exhaled smoke is called exhaled mainstream smoke. The smoke drifting from a lit cigarette is called sidestream smoke. The combination of mainstream and sidestream smoke is called second-hand smoke (SHS) or environmental tobacco smoke (ETS). Side stream smoke from the end of a cigarette, cigar or pipe is unfiltered. It has more harmful toxins than mainstream smoke that someone breathes out.

Q – So one may ask, How does secondhand smoke affect nonsmokers?

Secondhand smoke damages the body in many different ways. Adults exposed to secondhand smoke may experience:
Cardiovascular (heart, veins and arteries) disease like high blood pressure, atherosclerosis, heart attack or stroke. Lung problems like chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder (COPD) and asthma. Increased risks of lung cancer and cancers in the brain, bladder, stomach, breast and more.
Children exposed to secondhand smoke are more likely to experience:
Frequent coughing, sneezing, shortness of breath or other breathing problems.
Frequent ear infections.
Frequent and more severe asthma attacks.
Respiratory infections, such as bronchitis or pneumonia.
Damage to eyes (like cataracts) and teeth (like tooth decay).
Learning and behaviour problems.
SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome).

Secondhand smoke affects anyone near burned or exhaled tobacco, but some groups have more smoke exposure:

Service industry workers, such as restaurant servers and bartenders: Anyone who works near groups of smokers may be unable to avoid secondhand smoke.
Pregnant women: Secondhand smoke affects unborn children and their mothers. Lower amounts of oxygen available for the baby can increase foetal heart rates or lower the birth weight. Women may experience miscarriage, stillbirth, premature delivery or ectopic pregnancy.
Infants, children and pets: young children and animals cant always choose to leave a smoke-filled room. The constant exposure increases the harmful effects of secondhand smoke.

Q – What measures are other countries doing to protect their citizens on smoking?

A – Other Countries become party to the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control with
Designated smoking areas
Controlling tobacco advertising
Ensuring tobacco packaging and labelling is not misleading
Sales restrictions to minors

Continue Reading


Botswana approves extradition of British fugitive

20th March 2023

Raiz Ahmed Tayub, a British fugitive sought by Interpol for his involvement in human trafficking and slave trade crimes, was captured by the Botswana Police Service (BPS) earlier this year.

This content is locked

Login To Unlock The Content!

Continue Reading


BOCRA detects new cyber attacks targeted at Botswana

20th March 2023

Government owned communications regulator, Botswana Communications Regulatory Authority (BOCRA) recently detected several cyber-attacks targeted at national information and communications infrastructure, companies and home routers in this country.

This content is locked

Login To Unlock The Content!

Continue Reading


Malawi appeals for help over Cyclone Freddy at PAP

17th March 2023

As of yesterday evening, the death toll from the Cyclone in Malawi had risen from the initially reported 190 to 225 in a short period of time, over 20 000 people have been displaced, and the worst of fears are yet to come as the fatalities continue to mount. This was reported by a Malawi Member of Parliament attending the Pan African Parliament session in Midrand, South Africa, Hon Steven Mikiya.

Mikiya was giving a statement on behalf of Malawi as the ongoing Pan African Parliament in South Africa.

Mikiya said the Cyclone has wreaked the most havoc in our country’s Southern Region. “The Southern Region, has been hardest hit with widespread heavy rains and strong winds. This caused a rapid rise in water levels and subsequent flooding. Meanwhile, power supply has been disrupted, roads blocked off and rendered impassable and mudslides have also been widely reported,” he said.

He made a special appeal to the PAP:  “Where I come from, there is a parable which I would like to share with you which says, “mzako weniweni umamudziwa panthawi ya mavuto.” Simply put, a friend in need is a friend indeed or put loosely, a person who helps at a difficult time is a friend you can rely on.”

Mikiya continued: “Yes! Misfortune has knocked on our door and left in its wake a trail of death and destruction that may take years to fully recover from. However, amidst these difficulties, I have every reason to believe that sometimes when you are in a dark place and think you have been buried, you have actually been planted. My belief, Mr. President, arises out of my faith in this gathering and out of the conviction that it is not coincidental that Cyclone Freddy hit Malawi and Mozambique while the delegations of both countries are here.”

According to Mikiya, the level of destruction, the loss of life, property and the decimation of the entire fabric of established communities has been unprecedented. He noted that all this, is coming at a time when Malawi was starting to show signs of recovery from the deadly COVID-19 pandemic that also came hard on the heels of Cyclone Ana and Cyclone Gombe that left a similar trail of devastation and destruction in Malawi and neighbouring countries.

As of Sunday, this week, from the 12th of March, Malawi and Mozambique have been facing the devastating effects of Cyclone Freddy that made a landfall over Mozambique on Saturday the 11th and reached Malawi by Sunday the 12th of March.

The Malawi legislator said he has absolute faith in the Pan African Parliament, which he described as “a league of nations brought together by a shared ancestry, history, identity as well as our beloved continent which we inhabit”.

Meanwhile, Malawi President, Lazarus Chakwera, has declared a State of Disaster in the affected areas effectively appealing for local and international support for the affected families.

Mikiya appealed to the Pan African Parliament drawing “positive” inspiration from Europe which rallied around Turkey after the destructive earthquakes to bring the much-needed relief and humanitarian aid to the people of Turkey.

He said Africa should demonstrate to the world that the African Union and its Organs are not mere talk shows, but effective institutions which stand up when it matters most.

“Alone, it may take us a lifetime to fully recover, but together, in the Pan-Africanist spirit of Ubuntu, our lives and livelihoods will return to a semblance of normality in record time. This is the time to live by our operative mantra, “One Africa, One Voice.” Mikiya concluded.

Continue Reading