Did you know that India is the second largest consumer and producer of tobacco? Use of tobacco in any form such as smoking, khaini, gutkha, betel quid with tobacco and zarda poses a major risk factor for many chronic diseases, including cancer, lung disease, cardiovascular disease and stroke. It is one of the major causes of death and disease in our country and accounts for nearly 1.35 million deaths every year. WHO stated that 4.9 million premature deaths per year are attributable to tobacco use, mostly in the form of smoking. And the number is expected to reach eight million by 2030 if the current rate of tobacco consumption is unchanged.
Smoking/use of tobacco has become a menace and it is one of the growing concerns in India. Till date, numerous awareness programs and campaigns have been conducted to reduce the use of smoking in India. A sudden hike in the price is one of the steps to help control the use of tobacco and smoking.
Some of the recent campaigns conducted by the Indian Government are;
- Quit Tobacco Movement (2008) - To promote freedom from tobacco
- Life Se Panga Mat Le Yaar (2011) - To counteract positive images of tobacco in popular cinema
- Election Campaign (2014) - To encourage people to stop using tobacco as part of New Year's resolution
- Tambakhu Ko Dhishum (2015) - To collect cases of violation of COTPA 2003 act.
Why smoking continues to be a passion among youngsters despite a sharp rise in price and awareness?
Most people started smoking when they were teenagers. And the number has increased considerably over the last few years. The rise in the number can be attributed to many factors such as lack of proper guidance, urge to imitate elders, peer pressure, misconceptions, easy availability of variety of tobacco products and innovative advertisements attract the children to tobacco.
Hazards of smoking
It is well known that smoking causes cancer, heart disease, stroke, lung diseases, diabetes, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), which includes emphysema and chronic bronchitis. It can lead to disease and disability and damage the organs over time. Ninety percent of all lung cancer deaths in men and 80% in women are caused by smoking.
Beedi smoking is one of the most common forms of tobacco smoking in India. Studies have shown that beedi smoking can lead to cancers at various sites, such as oral cavity (including subsites), pharynx, larynx, esophagus, lung and stomach. The risk of a person developing tuberculosis and other serious diseases like cancer has been associated with beedi smoking.
Would it be hard to quit smoking?
Cigarette and tobacco contain nicotine which is an addictive substance that can affect many parts of your body, including the brain. When the nicotine hits the brain, it prompts the brain to release adrenaline, and that creates a buzz of pleasure and energy for a short time. A feel good hormone “Dopamine” is released when you smoke. When it fades away, your body longed for the excitement. This leads to frequent smoking and later turns into an addiction. Studies show that smoking is most likely to become a habit during the teen years. The younger you smoke, the more likely you are to become addicted to nicotine.
Quitting smoking: The foremost step is to control the urge to smoke and resist cravings. The following steps may help;
- Nicotine Replacement Therapy – It is a medically approved way to treat people with tobacco use disorder by taking nicotine by means other than tobacco. It comes in different forms such as Nicotine patch, gum, lozenges, inhaler and nasal spray.
- Try relaxation techniques – People smoke when there is stress. Also, fighting back against a tobacco craving can itself be stressful. Deep breathing, muscle relaxation, yoga, visualization, massage or listening to calming music.
- Seek help – Remember it is okay to seek help from a professional that provides support and counselling. It is a good idea to connect with a family, friend or support group member for help in your effort to resist a tobacco craving.
- Exercise – Being physically active can help distract you from tobacco cravings. When the idea of smoking strikes you, go for a walk or jog.
Authored by Dr. Sunil Kumar K, Lead and Sr Consultant - Interventional Pulmonology, Aster CMI Hospital