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People must wake up to the danger of smoke

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In fact, statistics tell us that approximately 70 out of 100 people who smoke want to stop but go on puffing, day in and day out

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Vinod Chandrashekhar Dixit

Everyone is aware that ‘smoking’ has been criticized as the most lethal weapon of self destruction. According to the Tobacco Products Act, 2004, direct and indirect advertising of all tobacco products and its sale to minors is banned.
Addiction to nicotine makes it hard to quit. The increasing incidence of heart attack in India, fast spreading among younger generation has been largely on account of smoking habits. The problem of smoking in India is widespread but no studies have been done to estimate what percentage of the population are smokers.
Roadside paan shops bountifully stocked with cigarettes feed smokers continuing to exhale smoke from cigarettes. It is a fact that smoking is a hard habit to break because tobacco contains nicotine, which is highly addictive.
Smoking harms not just the smoker, but also family members, coworkers, and others who breathe the smoker’s cigarette smoke, called secondhand smoke or passive smoke. In fact, statistics tell us that approximately 70 out of 100 people who smoke want to stop but go on puffing, day in and day out, seemingly powerless to quit. Research has shown that non-smokers who reside with a smoker have a 24% increase in risk for developing lung cancer when compared with other non-smokers.
Owners of sales outlets must display boards with the warnings like “tobacco causes cancer”, “tobacco kills”and “sale to minors is a punishable offence”. Sometimes it happens that notification prohibiting selling tobacco products to minors has no effect as the teenagers continue to buy tobacco/cigarettes on the pretext that they are buying it on behalf of their elders. Smoking also provides other side benefits which are real.
Let us remember that staying smoke free helps more of everything — more energy, better performance, better looks, more money in your pocket, and, in the long run, more life to live.
In India there is little campaigning save the statutory warnings printed in small print on cigarette cartons and advertisements? Graphic health warnings using a mixture of pictures and words are part and parcel of every country’s policy on cigarette marketing.
The 40 per cent warning on one side proved ineffective as vendors displayed the packaging on the other side, so that consumers would not see the warnings. Cigarette manufacturers share the kitty with vested interest; hence their interest is well protected with simple modifications to fool the general public. It is agreed that the bigger warning can create an impact when a smoker buys a cigarette pack.
But how do we resolve the issue when smokers buy one or two cigarettes and the packet is being opened by the shop owner who sells cigarettes for business. It is the youth who are the most vulnerable group as far as the consumption of tobacco is concerned. Most of them begin smoking as a fad and even as a rite of passage. According to The Cigarette Package Health Warnings: International Status Report 2014 India has slipped to 136th position in the list of 198 countries that warn smokers about the hazards of smoking through graphic pictures on cigarette packages.
Can’t we implement the ban on the companies manufacturing these tobacco products for intoxication? One would find (particularly smokers) like all laws in India, nothing will be implemented. Indians just do not have the psyche to obey laws. They believe that rules are meant to be broken. Smokers are unmindful of the consequences of passive smoking. Over time, the habit of smoking weaves its way through all of the activities in our lives, and we come to think we can’t be happy or productive without cigarettes.
Various provisions that we implement time and again clearly states that People can smoke on roads or in their homes but not in any other place. More deaths are caused each year by tobacco use than by all deaths from AIDS, illegal drug use, alcohol use, motor vehicle injuries, suicides, and murders combined.
It smells something else totally against enforcing the rule strongly across the country as law enacted smoking is banned only for outside propaganda. Here, the Govt. is happy that it has a law, police is happy that it can earn more money, the cigarette companies are happy that they don’t have to bother, the finance ministry is happy as there is no affect on taxes and the health minister is happy that he could do atleast one thing in his tenure – so what matters if it is not implemented.
It is reported that a cigarette smoker shortens his life by about 5.5 minutes for each cigarette smoked, almost the time he spends for smoking it. The increasing incidence of heart attack in India, fast spreading among younger generation has been largely on account of smoking habits. Nearly 30 million people in the country are estimated to be victims of heart diseases. No doubt, the Government has come out with good points to deal with the matter but at the same time taxes on tobacco products should go up to help smokers give up. Such methods will be long lasting.
Under such circumstances, it clearly shows that the anti- smoking Act will go up in smoke. But I feel that People must wake up to the danger of smoke to themselves and passive smokers before it is too late.

(The writer is based in Gujrat and can be reached at [email protected])


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