World No Tobacco Day
initiated by the World Health Organization, is observed on 31st May
every year to draw world attention to the ill
effects of tobacco use and to rein in tobacco consumption globally. "Gender and tobacco with an emphasis on
marketing to women"—
WHO's theme for this year focuses on the newer
dimensions of this key public health issue that is witnessing more women
smokers in recent years. With the number of male tobacco users either dead or
dying prematurely from cardiovascular disease, lung cancer, Chronic Obstructive
Pulmonary Disease (COPD) and other tobacco related diseases, the tobacco
industry is ensnaring young women perhaps as new users to keep the sales going.
Statistics from WHO
• 20% of the world's over 1 billion smokers are women
• 7% of adolescent girls and 12% of adolescent boys smoke
• Almost as many girls use tobacco as boys in some countries
• 10 million cigarettes are bought every minute globally
• 1 in 5 teens smokes cigarettes on a global average
• Every 8 seconds, someone in the world dies of a tobacco-related illness
Tobacco used in any form - cigarettes or cigars, hand rolled
tobacco, hookah, snuff, chewing tobacco leaves or gutkha
can lead to
health problems that can eventually turn fatal. Medical research in the 1900s
proved beyond doubt that tobacco use can trigger heart attack, stroke, COPD,
emphysema and a host of cancers including lung cancer and oral cancer. The
presence of Nicotine
(also known as whale vomit) benzene (known to cause acute myeloid leukemia),
radioactive lead and polonium, hydrogen cyanide and a host of other toxic
chemicals in cigarette smoke make it even dangerous for hapless passive smokers
or second hand smokers who are in the vicinity of those who smoke.
Cigarettes Lure Indian Women
It was usual for some western women to smoke cigarettes and
some women from developing or underdeveloped countries to chew tobacco leaves
until recent years. A couple of recent studies from India have shown that women
smokers are on the rise in India, especially in the BPO sector and media
industry. The surveys showed 8% of
women in BPO smoked, and the percentage of smoking women in the media ranged
from 5%-35 %. Reasons for smoking cited
by the women include stress, boredom, peer pressure and having
'the money to burn' at a young age.
An alarming fact that emerged from the studies was that the
women were not aware of the serious health implications, especially reproductive
. Smoking can cause infertility and miscarriages
besides harming the baby in the womb irreparably.
"World No Tobacco Day" Agenda
This is the day when governments, non governmental
organizations (NGOs) and the general public come together to organize various
activities to sensitize people about the serious health problems that tobacco
use can trigger. Demonstrations and public marches with vivid banners,
educational programs and campaigns are launched in different parts of the world
to discourage people from using tobacco in any form. Governments try to
discourage smoking by imposing public smoking bans, increasing excise duty on tobacco
products, promoting No Tobacco campaigns and ensuring tobacco products carry
graphic warnings on the pack.
According to a recent WHO report both men and women need
"full information about the sex-specific effects of tobacco use." This year the
World Health Organization is highlighting the adverse effects of the tobacco
industry targeting women and young girls.
"Kick the Butt" While You Can
There are ways and ways to quit smoking like taking a walk
round the block when you feel the urge, pasting frightful images of diseases
triggered by tobacco use on your wardrobe and work desk, spending quality time
with family and friends and requesting a trusted companion to keep tabs on your
tobacco use till you gradually kick the butt. There is even a Zen suggestion
that says if you can stay away from the cigarette continuously for 21 days, you
won't be a slave to it anymore.
The ultimate resolution to stop using tobacco and say Yes to
life has to come from within a user. A 24-hour abstinence from tobacco on May 31st, 2010
keeping in mind the potential
health hazards of using tobacco, would be an ideal way to start the effort to
kick the butt.
So, ladies and gentlemen and kiddos, don't hesitate to
Say No to Tobacco.