Every day from morning to evening you must be seeing tens if not hundreds of people smoking away, some taking a drag leisurely wiling away their time and others frantically puffing and pacing with a lit up cigarette in their fingers.
The subways, doors of the local train, public buildings, and hospital walls are decorated with scarlet spit graffiti of tobacco and pan have become a unique identifying symbol of our cities. You may know someone who is the master artist behind these artworks.
All these scenes will not surprise us if I tell you about the alarming figures, approximate 101 million people (~14% of adults) above the age of 15 years are active tobacco smokers in India. 83 million men smoke on a daily basis.
Nearly 42% of the population uses tobacco in some form or other. That means India is housing around 12% of active smokers. Six top Tobacco industry constitutes around 366 billion USD.
Tobacco and the trail of destruction
Ok, you do not smoke tobacco. But that does not mean that you are safe from second-hand smoke. On average it is estimated that more than 50% of all adults in India are exposed to varying levels of second-hand smoke. 1 million people die due to second-hand smoke exposure, globally.
Every 31st of May, WHO along with partner states celebrate the World No Tobacco Day (WNTD). On this day, all active tobacco consumers are requested to abstain from tobacco products for a period of 24 hours, so that they can understand without tobacco life is possible.
Also, the occasion is used to spread awareness about the effects of consuming tobacco, second-hand smoke, resources for tobacco cessation.
This year, the theme is ‘Tobacco and lung health.’ Since tobacco smoke which is inhaled either by the smoker or people exposed to second-hand smoke, the lung is the chief organ affected.
Tobacco smoke has more than 4000 active chemicals, out of which 70 are known cancer-causing agents, benzene and formaldehyde to name a few.
There are heavy metals in cigarette smoke – like Arsenic, lead and chromium. If that is not enough, depending upon the place tobacco leaves were cultivated, it may have radioactive elements like Uranium (no kidding). This is all in addition to main constituents of tar, TSNA, nicotine and carbon monoxide – all of it is getting deposited in the body.
Tobacco consumption in the smoking form leads to cancers of the lung, oropharyngeal, and almost any part of the body. Several other health issues are not enlisted here.
Is it too late to quit: Never
“Giving up smoking is the easiest thing to do…
Believe me, I know… I have tried thousands of times”
- Mark Twain
The author is a Consultant, Radiation Oncology at Jaslok Hospital and Research Centre