Every year, tobacco kills more than 8 million people across the world. As many as 1.2 million deaths are due to non-smokers being exposed to second-hand smoke. The COVID-19 pandemic has proven that impaired lungs because of smoking are more prone to get infected with the virus along with developing a severe disease compared to the non-smoking population.
Smokeless tobacco or chewing tobacco and snuff contains nicotine. Smokeless tobacco is also believed to contribute to cardiovascular disease and high blood pressure. Each year, smoking kills more people than AIDS, alcohol, drug abuse, car crashes, murders, suicides. Smoking decreases a person’s life expectancy by 10-12 years. Cigarette smoking is the major cause of many chronic diseases in the lungs.
In India many places have given fresh evidence of the role of tobacco smoking and chewing in cancer causation. 30% of oral and esophageal cancer deaths are due to smoking and chewing tobacco. Nearly 9 out of 10 lung cancers deaths are caused by smoking cigarettes or second hand smoke (smoke that has been exhaled, by the person smoking) exposure. Tobacco can cause cancer almost anywhere in the body.
With growing lifestyle-related tobacco usage in the form of hookah or seeshah, many young, urban class people are falling into the tobacco menace. The justification that the water pipe reduces the amount of tar and nicotine is one big myth. Many scientific studies have shown that Hookah use has both acute and long-term harmful effects on the respiratory and cardiovascular systems.
There’s never a good time to quit tobacco usage. Our body starts to recover as soon as we quit tobacco. It has been noticed that
• Within 20 minutes of quitting, elevated heart rate and blood pressure drop.
• After 12 hours, the carbon monoxide level in the bloodstream drops to normal.
• Within 2-12 weeks, circulation improves, and lung function increases.
• After 1-9 months, coughing and shortness of breath decrease.
In India, we cannot afford to have the burden of being the world’s heaviest tobacco-related health problem. We need to understand that tobacco usage is both a physical addiction and a psychological habit. To successfully quit tobacco, we all need to address both the addiction and the psychological aspects equally by making people aware.