Tobacco is a silent killer and single largest leading cause of preventable disease i.e. Cancer, Heart attacks, Chronic Obstructive lung disease and Asthma.
Despite numerous steps being taken to decrease tobacco usage, figures reveal an increase in deaths caused due to tobacco in India from 1.4% in 1990 to 13.3% in 2020. Tobacco is a silent killer and single largest leading cause of preventable disease i.e. Cancer, Heart attacks, Chronic Obstructive lung disease and Asthma.
According to WHO, tobacco killed 100 million people in twentieth century and it will kill 1 billion people in the twenty first century (ten times higher).
Dharamshila Hospital and Research Centre, a leading Cancer Hospital of India, has the first hand experience of seeing the damage caused by the use of tobacco (Active smoking, Passive Smoking, Chewing Tobacco). Sixty percent of the patients reporting at Dharamshila Hospital are suffering from Cancers of the lungs, mouth (gum, tongue, cheek, and nasopharynx) and larynx (voice box) esophagus. Eighty percent of the Cancer patients reporting to Dharamshila Hospital are inoperable. However patients reporting at early stages are being operated and have a very high probability of disease free survival. Dharamshila’s proactive initiatives on Cancer awareness, early cancer detection and tobacco cessation clinics have helped them to downstage the Cancer as well as help people to quit tobacco.
Dr. S. Khanna, Executive Director of Dharamshila Hospital says, “We need to take proactive steps to make people aware of their chances of getting cancer. There should be an immediate stoppage of misleading tobacco advertisements even in surrogate form. Tobacco companies have designed these campaigns and resources to seduce young people into becoming replacements for the millions of customers who have died as a result of using their products. Young smokers provide a life time of profits for manufacturing companies.
“We should also look at a complete ban on cultivation of tobacco and undertake advocacy with Govt. to implement the Tobacco Control Programme in letter and spirit. Stop playing with the tobacco lobby to earn revenues”, she added.
Emphasising on the dangers of smoking and reasons for quitting, Prof. (Dr.) Sneh Bhargava, Ex-Director AIIMS, Head of Dept – Radio-Imaging Services and In-charge of Tobacco Cessation Clinic, Dharamshila Hospital And Research Centre says, “A cigarette is a toxic syringe. A burning cigarette is the devils own chemical factory. Cigarettes contain cancer causing tumour initiators and toxic agents including Nicotine, Tar, Arsenic, NH3CO2, Hydrogen Cyanide, Formaldehyde, Asbestos, PO2O2IO, Cyanide, Lead, DDT, Acetaldehyde. Within seconds after tobacco smoke is inhaled some 4800 toxic byproducts are absorbed into the blood stream and transported to every cell of the smokers body. A cigarette “hits” you very quickly, more quickly than any other drug taken by mouth. First puff hits in 5 seconds while alcohol and Marihuana take 15-20 minutes.
The first puff reaches the brain in 7 seconds. In 7 seconds when nicotine reaches the brain it stimulates the release of a neuro chemical Dopamine and Nor Adrenaline leading to a pleasurable feeling and enhanced energy and alertness. This increases with every cigarette smoked into the lungs and one becomes an addict and established smoker in the nurturance of these Dopamine surges.
“People think smoking / chewing gives them a lift & improves alertness and energy, is pleasant and relaxing and gives them company when they are alone but do not realize that they are entering into the most dreadful addiction known to mankind, which is all physiologically, psychologically and socially addictive – turning them into an addict,” she adds.
Passive Smoking is worse than puffing because it affects non smokers and results in inhaling of nicotine and other carcinogens while not smoking themselves but being affected by it because someone near and dear smokes. Passive smokers become the victims and have to pay for it, resulting in miscarriages, premature deliveries, low birth weight babies, sudden infant deaths and attention deficient disorders in children, a variety of respiratory diseases and cancers just as if the victim was the active smoker.
Tobacco chewing is equally dangerous. Gutka, pan masala, khaini and zarda are some of the tobacco products which are implicated in the recent rise in the incidence of oral submucus fibrosis – which has a high rate of malignant transformation and is extremely debilitating and has no known cure, but is preventable. India has a high burden of sub-mucos fibrosis and oral cancer accounting for 1/3rd of the world burden. It is one of the leading causes of cancers at five leading sites in both sexes. The rate of growth of “gutka” chewing has over taken that of smoking forms of tobacco. It has attracted the younger generation more than the older. Wider availability and affordability has even attracted women and made it easier for them to become nicotine addicts by chewing tobacco without attracting social sanction. The rising rates of cancer lung in women in India is proof of its long term harmful effects. The falling rates of lung cancer in USA and Europe are proof of the effective control methods used for tobacco consumption in these countries because of the awareness and cooperation of the citizenry. We can also do the same. The rising rates amongst the young in India is cause for deep concern – “Save the Youth” is our slogan.
Review of literature shows that India looses 54.8 lakhs precious lives because of tobacco. Out of the sixty thousands Cancer patients reported at Dharamshila Hospital, forty percent are beedi smokers, forty percent are tobacco chewers, sixteen percent are cigarette smokers and four percent are Passive smokers.
A FUTURE FREE OF TOBACCO
1 We hope to and need to break this vicious cycle of death and destruction.
2 Quitting is the first step towards a Tobacco Free World for you and future generations. We hope people will become role models and synergise efforts and fight untiringly and untidily to uproot this epidemic. Only then can we bestow upon our future generations a healthy future Free of Tobacco world.