World No-Tobacco Day: Beating the habit is a tough, necessary step towards healthier living

No condition can ever be eradicated if people don't take individual responsibility for their part in it.

Binita Priyambada May 31, 2019 12:16:29 IST
World No-Tobacco Day: Beating the habit is a tough, necessary step towards healthier living

Everyone remembers "Mukesh", the guy who frequently shows up on the big screens in cinema halls sharing his story about how smoking has affected his life, his health, and his family's happiness. We all are also well aware of the fact that tobacco consumption is one of the major reasons for lung and oral cancer. But even then, just what do we actually do about it? Do we really get influenced by the ads and quit smoking? The answer is simply, ‘no’.

People holding cigarettes and inhaling deadly smoke into the lungs is an everyday sight under the buildings of a corporate office. If you visit a bus stand or a railway station, it is normal to see people sitting and scouring tobacco on their palms.

Currently, approximately 5.4 million people die due to tobacco-related illnesses every year worldwide and the numbers are expected to increase to 8 million a year by 2030. In India alone, there were 1.2 lakhs tobacco-related cancer deaths in the year 2010. There is an urgent need to address this issue and take timely measures to raise awareness about the negative impact of tobacco consumption.

World NoTobacco Day Beating the habit is a tough necessary step towards healthier living

lalee Kolhi, a freed bonded labourer turned activist, smokes a cigarette while she sits on a bed at her home in Hyderabad. Image: Reuters

What tobacco consumption can do to you?

Consumption of tobacco in any form can cause cancers in various sites/organs in the body which includes throat, lungs, mouth, larynx, esophagus, gall bladder, kidney, breast and brain. Tobacco consumption is also associated with many other disorders such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, stroke, tooth and gum disease, blindness, etc. Around 45 percent of all the cancers in males and 17 percent of all the cancers in females are directly liked to tobacco consumption. Chewing tobacco causes over 80 percent of all reported oral cancers in India.

There are at least 60 documented carcinogens (cancer-causing agents) present in tobacco or tobacco smoke. The main chemical found in tobacco is nicotine, which is a highly addictive chemical that hooks people to using it both physically and psychologically.

Tobacco use in India

Data reveals that at least 274.5 million (35 percent) of India's adults consume tobacco. Of these, 163.7 million use it in smokeless form (gutka), 68.9 million adults are only smokers, and the last 42.3 million use tobacco in both smoke and smokeless forms.

Over 30 percent of the Indian population above the age of 15 consumes tobacco in some form or the other. This includes 14.6 percent of children in the age group of 13-15 years.

World NoTobacco Day Beating the habit is a tough necessary step towards healthier living

Some quick numbers and facts on smoking in India. Source: WHO Factsheet 2018

Also read: Smoking affects women, men & unborn babies differently — here's how

Fighting a tobacco addiction 

Although most of the tobacco users want to get rid of this habit, they are unable to do so because of their dependence on a highly addictive substance. Here are some ways that may help you quit smoking:

• Choose a date and time when you will finally stop smoking
• Make a list of reasons why you wish to quit
• Keep a track of triggers that may increase the urge to smoke
• Throw away tobacco from your room
• Tell your friends that you are trying to quit smoking so that they can help
• Use NRTs (Nicotine Replacement Products) to combat withdrawal symptoms till the habit dies out

World NoTobacco Day Beating the habit is a tough necessary step towards healthier living

Tips to help quit smoking. Image: WHO Smoking Factsheet 2018

Reducing tobacco consumption and raising awareness about its ill effects remains a major concern worldwide. Keeping this in mind, the World Health Organization and its global partners celebrate and organize World No Tobacco Day (WNTD) annually on 31 May. This year the theme adopted for the event is "tobacco and lung health" to raise awareness about the negative impact that smoking has on lungs leading to the onset of conditions such as COPD or lung cancer.

No disease or a condition can ever be eradicated if people do not take individual responsibility for their part in it. So let us encourage people to quit smoking and help those who have already stepped on to this journey. Together we can win the war against tobacco use and save many, many lives!

The author is a Senior consultant in the medical team at docprime.com

Updated Date:

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