Protecting present and future generations: World No Tobacco Day

The ultimate goal of World No Tobacco Day is to contribute to protecting present and future generations not only from the devastating health consequences due to tobacco, but also from the social, environmental and economic scourges of tobacco use and exposure to tobacco smoke.

APPROXIMATELY 900,000 people die every year in India due to smoking as of 2009
1 million Indians would die of smoking annually by 2010. 26.6% OF THE POPULATION OF JAMMU AND KASHMIR SMOKES WHICH IS THE HIGHEST RATE IN THE COUNTRY.

Smoking is a worldwide hazard. It is a single most important cause of preventable premature death. The member states of the World Health Organization (WHO) created World No Tobacco Day in 1987 and since then it is observed around the world every year on May 31. The day is intended to draw attention to the widespread prevalence of tobacco use and to negative health effects, which currently lead to nearly 6 million deaths each year worldwide, including 600,000 of which is the result of non-smokers being exposed to passive smoking.

Tobacco usage is causally related to oral cavity, larynx, and oesophagus, pancreas, bladder, and kidney and lung cancers. It is directly related to 30 per cent of all cancer deaths. Smokers die 15 year younger than non smokers. Smoking cigarette, pipe, cigar, Huqua, Shisha and other use of tobacco like chewing tobacco and tobacco sniffing all are dangerous and addictive. Nicotine present in tobacco smoke causes addiction by increasing the brain levels of chemicals like Dopamine and Endrophine. These chemicals give a sense of happiness hence there is craving for tobacco products. If a person tries to quit, withdrawal effects include irritability, anxiety, depression and lack of concentration.

Tobacco and tobacco smoke have about 4,000 chemicals, 200 of these are poisonous and 60 of these chemicals are known to cause cancer (carcinogens).  Tobacco smoke causes hardening of the blood vessels leading to heart attack and stroke. It also contains carbon mono oxide which decreases oxygen in the blood.

Usually cigarette smokers have 70% greater mortality from coronary artery disease than the non- smokers. Whereas maternal smoking in pregnancy causes premature birth, spontaneous abortion, still birth, and low birth weight babies.

90% of the lung carcinomas in males and 80% in females are due to smoking .40% of the T.B. burden in India is attributed to smoking. 40% of the association of tuberculosis burden is associated with smoking. The risk of tuberculosis deaths among the bidi smokers was 2.6 times higher than the never smokers. Smokeless tobacco causes acute increase the blood pressure and the pulse rate.

Smokeless tobacco use was associated with cancers of the lip, oral cavity , pharynx , digestive tract , respiratory and intra thoracic tract . Tobacco smoking is hazardous to the non- smokers as well, particularly to children. A person who smokes not only harms himself but people around him like co-workers and family members who are at a high risk to develop cancers, heart disease, and stroke and lung infections. Children of smokers are at risk of developing asthma, bronchitis, sinus infections and mental retardation.

Almost 90% of the oral cancers in India are attributable to prolonged exposure to local forms of tobacco chewing and smoking. This includes bidi smoking, hookah, Chilum, hookli, etc among many other forms. The incidence of oral cancer is 42% higher among the bidi smokers. In fact India has one of the highest rates of oral cancer in the world. And 50% of it is attributable to smokeless tobacco.

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Prevention of consumption of tobacco products is the need of an hour. The success rates of quitting smoking are increased when it is advised by physicians and further increased if the smokers are counselled and enrolled in support groups and programs. The knowledge that the health benefits of quitting smoking start almost immediately adds to the success rate. Smokers should be told of the improvements in lung functions followed by a reduction in the risk of a heart attack to the level of a non-smoker within two years of smoking cessation.

Medications and behaviour therapy can complement one another as therapies used for smoking cessation. However, a strong willpower is the most important determinant of the success of quitting smoking.

In view of the above, prevention is the best way to combat this evil. A strong anti-smoking media campaign to create awareness is a good platform to start with. Including anti-smoking education in the schools where children are most easily influenced is highly recommended. Changing the social norms by banning smoking in our homes, public places, cinemas, restaurants, public transports, all targeting to create awareness that tobacco use is an addiction worthy of contempt may result in a decrease in this practice.

We owe it to ourselves, our country and our future generations.

 

 

Dr. Tapaswini P. Sharma, Sr.Consultant – Head & Neck surgery,
BLK SUPER SPECIALITY HOSPITAL, New Delhi

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