Dr Shivali Ahlawat Lab Head- National Reference Lab, Gurugram Head- East & South Regional Labs Oncquest Laboratories Ltd
Tobacco Intake Harms Millions: A Call to Quit Smoking and Adopt Safer Alternatives
The Devastating Impact of Tobacco on Health and Society
Tobacco intake has long been recognized as a major health hazard, leading to numerous diseases and disabilities. From heart disease to lung problems and oral cancer, the detrimental effects of smoking and smokeless tobacco are undeniable. Shockingly, over 1 million adults succumb to the 3Ds (death, diseases, and disability) caused by tobacco consumption annually, out of the 267 million tobacco users worldwide. It’s high time we address the harmful consequences that tobacco inflicts upon individuals, families, and society as a whole.
Smoking and Its Impact on Passive Smokers
Smoking doesn’t just harm the smokers themselves but also poses a significant threat to passive smokers—those exposed to secondhand smoke. According to a Global Adult Tobacco Survey (GATS) survey, around 41,000 adult deaths are attributed to indirect smoking every year. The chemicals in tobacco, such as nicotine, tar, and nitrosamine, lead to various lung diseases, including acute respiratory infections and asthma. The devastation caused by smoking is not limited to active smokers alone; it takes a toll on innocent lives too.
Sub-Headline 3: Smokeless Tobacco and Its Toll on Oral Health
Smokeless tobacco products like gutka, paan masala, and khaini may seem less harmful than smoking, but they bring their own set of health issues. These products lead to mucosal surface changes, keratosis patches, and nicotine stomatitis in the mouth. Moreover, they are responsible for a staggering 90-95% of oral cancer cases. The adverse effects of tobacco on the body are widespread, affecting not only the lungs but also the eyes, joints, and overall well-being.
Lung Problems and the Myth of Smoking as a Stress Reliever
Contrary to popular belief, smoking does not relieve stress; it only exacerbates health problems. Many individuals fall into the trap of using tobacco to cope with stress or improve concentration, influenced by idols and advertisements. However, the reality is grim—29% of adults are addicted to smoking, leading to acute or severe lung diseases by the age of 35-45. Lung conditions such as Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), Emphysema, and Chronic Bronchitis are prevalent among smokers, and 95% of lung cancer cases occur in those who smoke.
Finding Solutions and Promoting a Healthier Society
Overcoming tobacco addiction is undoubtedly a challenging task, especially considering the livelihoods dependent on the tobacco industry. However, we must prioritize health over economic interests. Education plays a crucial role in encouraging people to quit tobacco, and the establishment of more deaddiction centers can help individuals tackle their addiction effectively. Creating awareness about the harmful consequences of tobacco and promoting safer alternatives can lead us towards a healthier society and, eventually, a healthier nation.