World No Tobacco Day 2020: Here's how bidi, gutka and other forms of tobacco harm your body
Tobacco products kill about eight million people every year, taking a life every 4 seconds.
There are nearly 1.3 billion tobacco users in the world as per the World Health Organisation (WHO). Tobacco products kill about eight million people every year, taking a life every 4 seconds.
To spread awareness about the effects of tobacco use and to discourage people from using it in any form, the WHO and associated organizations observe the World No Tobacco Day on 31st May every year.
This year, the aim is to debunk myths and inform the youth (the next generation) so they can stay away from industry manipulation and avoid tobacco use in all of its old, new and supposedly "less harmful" forms.
Here are the various forms of tobacco that are currently available in the market along with their effects on the body.
Tobacco is predominantly used in the smoke form. Smoking tobacco includes cigarettes, cigars, bidis and pipes and is associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular diseases, coronary artery disease and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
Cigarettes are small cylinders made of paper and contain reconstituted tobacco with many added chemicals. A cigarette, when lit, can release more than 4,000 chemicals, of which about 50 are associated with cancer. Studies show that cigarette smokers have a ten times higher risk of developing COPD than non-smokers.
Bidis have tobacco wrapped in dried temburni leaf and tied with a string. They deliver much more tar and carbon monoxide to the body than cigarettes since it takes more effort to keep it lit.
Cigars contain dried and fermented tobacco in a tobacco leaf. They come in a variety of shapes and sizes and include cigarillos, cheroots, double coronas, stumpen, chuttas and dhumti. For chuttas and dhumti, the lit end has to be kept inside the mouth. Cigars and cigarillos are available in various flavours and are usually not inhaled directly into the lungs. This makes some believe they're safe but they contain various chemicals and nicotine which can get absorbed through the inside of your cheeks and lead to oral cancer and cancer of the throat and lungs.
Hookah, sheesha or pipes have tobacco placed and heated in a chamber and the smoke passed through a water bowl and from a pipe into the person’s mouth. The side effects are the same as that of smoking cigarettes. As per the FDA, a person can inhale 100 to 200 times more nicotine than a single cigarette in a 1-hour hookah session.
Similarly, E-cigarettes/vape pens/E-hookahs have a heating chamber that usually has a nicotine-containing liquid. This liquid gets converted into aerosols on being heated and is inhaled. Recently, e-cigarettes and associated products have been banned by various countries in the world (including India).
Smokeless forms of tobacco include chewing tobacco and snus (both moist and dry). They have both local and systemic effects. Local effects range from irritation of the oral mucosa, enamel abrasion, gum recession, leukoplakia, risk of oral cancer, loss of muscle mass, strength and endurance and interference with treatment regimes if the person has heart disease or diabetes.
Chewing tobacco includes gutka/pan masala or betel quids consisting of areca nut, tobacco and staked lime wrapped in a betel leaf which have to be chewed to release all flavours and nicotine. Some forms of pan masala include paan, kaddipudi, hogesoppu, pattiwala, gundi, zarda, kiwam, kadapam, mishri, and pills.
On the other hand, snus is ground or powdered tobacco which is either taken orally (moist snus and dry snus) or inhaled (dry snus). Moist snus is placed between the cheek and gum. Some forms of moist snus include khaini, nass or naswa and shammah.
For more information, read our article on Harmful effects of smoking on health.
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