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Beware of tobacco, it is going to kill half of its life-time users!

Tobacco contains Nicotine, one of the most addictive substances known to man. Present in two forms- Smoking (Cigarettes, bidis, cigars, cheroots, chutta, hukka, etc.) & Smokeless (khaini, zarda, gutkha, etc.), tobacco causes more than 13 lakh deaths every year in India which is more than the combined casualty from HIV, Illegal drug use, alcohol use, motor vehicle injuries, firearm-related incidents.

Alarmingly, India is seeing earlier tobacco initiation amongst children. As per the Global Youth Tobacco Survey 2019, 8.5% of the children in India are current Tobacco users. The median age of initiation is 11.5 years for cigarettes, 10.5 years for Bidis and 9.9 years for smokeless tobacco users. We need to address this menace before it becomes a monster.

With evolving lifestyle, tobacco has emerged in the novel forms like- ENDS, herbal and flavored hookahs, Electronic Shisha etc. Though these forms have been introduced as harm reduction products however the industry is expanding base with these newer forms of tobacco.  

The problem is not limited to just men and adults, unfortunately women too are succumbing to this poison as well.

Tobacco causes about 90% of all lung cancer deaths in men and about 80% of all deaths from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). As compared to non-smokers, smokers are more likely to develop Heart Disease, Stroke, Emphysema, Chronic Bronchitis and cancers of almost every organ. It can affect fertility in men & women and on top of that, in women, it can lead to Preterm delivery, Stillbirth, Sudden infant death syndrome. Tobacco also affects baby's health before and after birth. Though the government has taken several initiatives to spread awareness about negative aspects of tobacco, yet Tobacco and its consequences remain a huge challenge to our country's public health and well-being. 

Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products Act 2003 aims at regulating production, distribution and advertisement of tobacco products while the National Tobacco Control programme 2007 aims at creating greater awareness about the harmful effects of tobacco use. Another initiative of Tobacco Free Educational Institutions aims at creating healthy and tobacco free environment in educational institutions. Jammu & Kashmir administration has also taken several initiatives to create tobacco free zones around educational institutions, places of social importance like tourist destinations, transportation facilities, house boats, etc. Regular workshops are being organized to create more awareness about harmful effects and long-term health impact of tobacco use amongst the students, teachers, workers and officials. Training program is organized for law enforcers for capacity building. Tobacco Cessation Centers have opened at Government Hospital Gandhinagar and District Hospital Ramban for counselling and free medicines to people who want to quit.  

Today on No Smoking Day, let us all take a pledge to never smoke or even use smokeless tobacco, to ensure that our environment remains tobacco free and that our children get the clean air to breathe that they deserve to become the healthy citizens this country needs.


Benefits of quitting

  • Quitting smoking cuts cardiovascular risks. Just 1 year after quitting smoking, the risk for a heart attack drops sharply.

  • Within 2 to 5 years after quitting smoking, the risk for stroke could fall to about the same as a nonsmoker's. 

  • On quitting smoking, the risks for cancers of the mouth, throat, esophagus, and bladder drop by half within 5 years.

  • Ten years after quitting smoking, the risk for lung cancer drops by half.



Dr. Mridula Singh is Divisional Nodal Officer, National Tobacco Control Program at Directorate of National Health Services, Jammu.


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