31st May 2013: The world today observes World No Tobacco Day (WNTD).The aim of this day is to spread awareness about the harms of tobacco consumption and encourage abstinence from all forms of tobacco consumption. There are approximately 120 million smokers in India, about 37 percent of all men and 5 percent of all women between the ages of 30 and 69.
The theme of this year’s ‘World No Tobacco Day’ is to ban tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship. The ban on any promotion of tobacco usage can bring down the incidence of diseases associated with tobacco usage significantly.
Cigarette smoke contains several Carcinogenic products. There are roughly 45 Carcinogens in cigarette smoke. However, cessation of smoking can repair the damage gradually. The primary risk of tobacco usage includes many forms of cancers like cancer of larynx, head and neck, breast cancer, bladder cancer, oesophagus and pancreas cancer and cervical cancer.
Long term smoking is responsible for pulmonary damage leading to chronic obstructive pulmonary diseases (COPD) including emphycema and chronic bronchitis. Smoking also increases the chances of heart disease, stroke and peripheral vascular disease besides increasing blood cholesterol level leading to atherosclerosis. Smokers are also at an increased risk of chronic kidney disease, influenza, periodontitis, gingival recession and white mucosal lesions.
Tobacco is linked to susceptibility of infectious diseases like tuberculosis. Incidence of impotence is 85% higher in male smokers than non-smokers. Smoking is harmful to ovaries causing female infertility and tobacco use is a significant factor for miscarriages among pregnant smokers. Smoking can also cause psychological issues such as mood disorders. Usage of tobacco can create cognitive dysfunction.
According to a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine, smoking kills 900,000 people every year in India, and unless corrective action is taken soon that number will increase to over 1 million smoking-related deaths annually by this decade.
The projected increase in smoking-related deaths in India is part of a global trend, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), which estimates that smoking-related deaths worldwide will surpass 9 million annually by 2020—with 7 million of those deaths occurring in developing nations. Twenty-five years ago, nearly 70 percent of the lung cancer deaths worldwide occurred in high-income nations. Today, 50 percent of lung cancer deaths occur in low-income nations, and by 2030 that number is expected to increase to 70 percent.
It is truly remarkable that one single factor, namely smoking, which is entirely preventable, accounts for nearly one in 10 of all deaths in India.
According to the study:
- Smoking may soon account for 20 percent of all male deaths and 5 percent of all female deaths among Indians between the ages of 30 and 69.
- About 61 percent of men who smoke can expect to die between the ages of 30 and 69, compared with only 41 percent of non-smoking men who are similar in other ways.
- About 62 percent of women who smoke can expect to die between the ages of 30 and 69, compared to only 38 percent of non-smoking women.
- On average, men who smoke bidi—the popular hand-rolled cigarettes that contain about one-quarter as much tobacco as a full-sized cigarette—shorten their lives by about six years. Men who smoke full-sized cigarettes lose about 10 years of life.
Fight against Tobacco
Comprehensive Tobacco control is the single most cost effective, economically viable and practical approach to prevent this tragedy. There are three different types of treatments available — behavioural counselling, nicotine replacement therapy, and medication. The kind of treatment differs from person to person. A few psychological therapies and regular support meetings at city hospitals have also helped several smokers quit smoking.
However, a few city doctors feel that despite the high levels of awareness and anti-smoking campaigns and laws, the battle is far from being won. Even the incidence of lung cancer has not seen any climb down. This should be a wake-up call for smokers to stub that cigarette butt forever.