Smoking has Reduced–Myth or Truth?

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With the arrival of World No Tobacco Day, one question that looms large is has smoking actually reduced. Several experts are of different opinions, activists driving mammoth anti-smoking campaigns are really optimistic, however, the reality is far from positive. A new study says, more than one in 10 deaths globally was caused due to smoking in 2015 and over 50 per cent of them took place in just four countries, one of which was India.

Over 11 per cent of 6.4 million deaths worldwide was caused by smoking in 2015 and 52.2 per cent of them took place in China, India, USA, and Russia, according to the latest estimates in the Global Burden of Disease (GBD) study. China, India, and Indonesia, the three leading countries with male smokers, accounted for 51•4 per cent of the world’s male smokers in 2015. An appalling scenario for India is that our country accounts for 11•2 per cent of the world’s total smokers.

A layman needs to realize that consumption of tobacco in any form is harmful and it includes multiple organs. The route through which the tobacco enters the body, primary brunt is on that organ leaving other organs damaged too. Smoking is the commonest form of tobacco consumption having direct involvement of lungs. Social smoking is the most familiar trend of smoking among youngsters. Smoking on getting into college life as an experiment and smoking in parties while drinking with friends are the most usual ways for them to take up the habit. Studies have shown that smoking rates are the highest among 18 to 34 years. Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) or lung cancer is the most fatal consequence of tobacco consumption.

In India the current scenario is unhealthier as people in urban landscape are more into smoking tobacco and people from relatively lower economic strata and rural landscape are more into consumption of smokeless tobaccos like khaini, gutkha, bidi.It is equally worrisome that smoking has transcended beyond gender bias and women in today’s date are taking up smoking and how. Studies reveal that prevalence of smoking among female is increasing more and at a faster rate than that of men, especially rural women smoking bidi in the last 5 years.Another awareness that is of immense significance is about passive or second hand smoking. Passive smoking is equally dangerous since any person sitting with a heavy smoker in the same room is susceptible to all the malignant diseases as caused by primary smoking.

Myth Buster
• It is high time that the bubble on our notion about the withdrawal symptoms is bursted. The withdrawal symptoms of smoking are not as severe as perceived to be like other forms of addiction. Certain outcome traits like irritability and craving would surface, however, it is practically possible to quit smoking overnight. Dr. Ranjan Das, Consultant Pulmonologist, CK Birla Hospitals enlightens that he has come across cases where a smoker used to smoke 30/40 cigarettes a day and has withdrawn just in a day’s time.

• Alternatives like nicotine supplements and drugs helping to reduce nicotine craving can be useful but the most impactful tool is the mental determination. It’s actually all in the mind. If one does not make up his / her mind, massive consumption of alternatives will go in vain after a point. The commonest manifestation is the revival of smoking even after quitting owing to lack of control and giving in to nicotine addiction. Another important factor is such alternatives should be strictly taken under doctor’s advice which includes the dosage and the time frame.

In the wake of World No Tobacco Day, currently it is a pressing need to pledge for a healthy life and arrest the consumption of tobacco especially among millennials. Several awareness driven campaigns have been propagated to ban smoking. The latest Global Adult Tobacco Survey (GATS) also indicates that India has made massive gains on account of recent anti-tobacco measures. These include large pictorial warnings on product packs, higher taxes and an intensive awareness campaign. India has 81 lakh fewer tobacco users now than it did in 2010, with tobacco use falling by six percentage points in the past seven years.

Dr. Das totally begs to differ here and throws light on facts which are truly eye opener. Education and campaigns may have been successful in reducing smoking in certain segments, however, on an alarming note, tobacco consumption holistically have not come down. The sales figure of tobacco companies would show how consumption of tobacco in the form of khaini, bidi and gutkha are still prevalent. He further emphasizes that there is higher incidence of encountering patients with health hazards stemming from smoking or tobacco consumption. Infact, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) has lately emerged to be one of the largest contributors to death in our country.

On this occasion, Dr. Das would like to drive the key message – “Save your lungs. Save your children’s lungs”.

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