Let’s spread the message about the dangers of tobacco
Vinod Chandrashekhar Dixit
Tobacco is the biggest enemy of public health today. The effects of tobacco use, as we all know, are destructive and widespread. Irrespective of cultures and countries, backgrounds and ethnicities, tobacco is chewed in different forms and ways. Tobacco use is the single most avoidable cause of death worldwide and is currently responsible for killing one in 10 adults worldwide.
In India, at least 800,000 deaths every year are related to tobacco use, out of which 700,000 are related to smoking. The tobacco consumption scenario in India is quite grim. Sample a few statistics.
There are 205 million tobacco users in a population of one billion. The Government gets revenue of approximately Rs 5000 crore through tobacco sales, and it spends an estimated Rs 13,500 crore on tobacco- related diseases. Chewing tobacco reduces the lunges to a sponge that soaks in at least 30 known carcinogens, or cancer causing chemicals.
Our country has the largest film producing industry in the world with 900 films per year and 250 million viewers including those watching television and cable shows. Film stars are very popular in India. They are involved in many public issues and they get countless media coverage.
Despite the warnings given by doctors about the ill-effects of smoking, people continue to smoke. Smokers are addicted to it, and even if they want to, they cannot refrain from picking up a cigar or cigarette and puffing away. Some youngsters smoke for the sake of society and some feel that would make them appear liberated and broadminded. The Global Youth Tobacco Survey among students 13 to 15 year old in 132 countries shows that
• 9% of the students are exposed to second – hand tobacco smoke at home
• 8% of the students are exposed to second – hand tobacco smoke in public places
• 1% of the students surveyed express support for smoking bans in public places.
Tobacco companies are doing very well all over the world. Every packet of cigars or cigarettes has a warning inscribed in it: cigarette smoking is injurious to health.” Yet the smoker never reads this warning and even if he reads it he never pays heed to it. The list of tobacco related diseases is long and includes heart and blood vessel diseases, bronchitis, asthma, impotence, birth defects and growth retardation in babies, etc.
Tobacco smoking is a major risk factor in developing cardiovascular disease, stroke, cancer and chronic obstructive lung diseases. It also increases a person’s risk of developing tuberculosis. Tobacco kills almost six million people each year and more than 600 000 are non-smokers breathing second-hand smoke. Tobacco smoke contains approximately 4,000 chemicals in cigarettes, 100s of which are toxic like formaldehyde, ammonia and cadmium.
Tobacco causes cancer and most of us are aware that smoking causes lung cancer and chewing tobacco causes oral cancer. Cigarette smoking is a gift of modern times and has become fashionable nowadays. Many psychologists have done detailed statistical studies, to investigate why people smoke? Their findings are indeed shocking.
The reasons given by smokers indicate that it is habit forming, increases concentration, and helps in killing time and to be in fashion. We need to spread the message about the dangers of tobacco use, need to continue throughout the year. Smoking in public places is also an infringement on the fundamental right of our fellow citizens, for it violates their right to live. Our protagonist may argue that banning smoking would violate the fundamental right of the individual.
This is untrue, as no one has the right to endanger his own life, what to talk of others around him. If a person wants to smoke, that is his own personal choice. However, the health effects that come with it affect nonsmokers, from the secondhand smoke to litter, and cause just as much damage to the people around them, something that cannot be ignored. an tobacco advertising Ban on tobacco advertising is as important as other tobacco control measures including increasing taxes, setting up smoking cessation clinics, banning public smoking or putting up health warnings.
Either way, smoking or chewing tobacco is not something that is welcome or a safe addiction. It is a serious hazard to good health. WHO everywhere mark the importance the health risks connected with tobacco use and advocating for effective policies to reduce tobacco use.
(The columnist is based in Ahmadabad)