Mangaluru: World Health Organisation (WHO) marks ‘World No Tobacco Day (WNTD)’ every year on 31st May to highlight health risks associated with tobacco use in any form and to advocate policies to reduce its consumption.
Tobacco is the single greatest cause of preventable death globally. It kills nearly 6 million people globally each year. Approximately 1 person dies every 6 seconds due to tobacco use accounting for 1 in 10 adult deaths. If urgent action is not taken against tobacco use, more than 8 million will die by 2030 each year. Up to half of current users will eventually die of a tobacco related disease. Tobacco use caused 100 million deaths in 20th century and if the current trend continues, it may cause 1 billion deaths in 21st century.
Tobacco causes diseases of many organ systems of our body. Most dreaded harmful effect of tobacco is cancer.Tobacco smoke contains more than fifty chemicals that cause cancer . Smoking is directly and indirectly linked to most of the cancers. It causes 30% of all deaths related to cancer. Smoking also affects blood vessels of body causing heart attack and paralysis of body.Tobacco contains nicotine, which is a highly addictive psychoactive drug which causes physical and psychological dependence on tobacco.
Second hand smoke or Environmental Tobacco smoke( passive smoking), is the smoke that fills restaurants, offices or other enclosed spaces when people burn tobacco products like cigarettes or bidis. Passive smoking leads to 6 lakhs deaths every year worldwide.Non – smokers exposed to passive smoking can develop heart and lung problems. It can cause sudden infant deaths and low birth weight babies in pregnant women. There is no safe level of exposure to second hand tobacco smoke.
Most commonly people start smoking during teenage. The younger the age of starting, the more likely it is that the person will continue smoking in adulthood. Most of the health hazards of smoking occur gradually over years. So by the time they develop diseases, it is very difficult for them to quit smoking. The most common causes for teenagers to start smoking are peer pressure, parents/close relatives who smoke, cool factor depiction by print and visual media.
WHO’s theme for 2015 is ” Stop Illicit Trade of Tobacco Products”. Approximately 1 in every 10 cigarettes and many other tobacco products, consumed worldwide are illegal. Its a major global concern from different perspectives like health, legal, economic, governance and corruption. Tobacco industry and criminal groups profit from the illegal trade and the public has to pay a heavy price by way of health and security. Illegal trade also makes tobacco products more affordable to the youngsters.
Very few people are aware of the health risks associated with tobacco use. Creating more awareness about ill effects of tobacco use is the need of the hour. Those who are aware of health hazards, counselling and medication can help them quit smoking.
E-cigarettes have been advertised as a means to quit smoking. However, WHO and other health organisations do not recommend its use as it does not curb nicotine dependence.
The Government has been implementing various policies in this regard like anti-tobacco advertisements, pictorial warnings on tobacco packs, ban on smoking in public places, increased taxes on tobacco products and various public awareness programmes.
So, lets pledge to stop tobacco abuse and pave the way towards a healthier world.
Dr Alka C Bhat, Consultant Pulmonologist, A J Hospital, Kuntikana and Unity Health Complex, Falnir Road, Mangaluru. She is also the Secretary of Mangaluru Chest Association.