It's time that our belief about huqqa smoking being safer than beedi smoking needs to be changed, said the Indian Asthma Care Society (IACS) on the occasion of World Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) Day, November 19.
Nearly 210 million people across the globe are affected by chronic obstructive pulmonary disease but many are not even aware about it.
It is believed that huqqa smoking is safer than beedi smoking because in huqqa, a person inhales tobacco which is filtered through water by a long pipe attached to the system.
"Single puff by 'huqqa' smoking is not safer than 'beedi' (Indian cigarettes) at any cost as both are injurious to lungs causing severe asthma leading to chronic obstructive pulmonary disease," said Dr Virendra Singh, president of IACS and Editor of international journal 'Lung India'.
He said that a single puff of huqqa sends 10 times more carbon monoxide in our body compared to beedi and the huqqa smoke settles more deeply in lungs.
Some 20 per cent villagers in Rajasthan were addicted to beedi or huqqa and this has led to acute COPD in smokers aged 40 to 50 years, he said. Twelve per cent people in rural areas die of COPD.
In India, approximately 30 million people are estimated to be suffering from COPD and half a million die every year from it.
In COPD, airflow to the lungs is restricted, along with problems like breathlessness and chronic coughing. This problem makes it difficult for a person to breathe properly. Some 75 per cent of people suffering from COPD are not able to lead a normal life. In acute COPD cases, a person is not able to climb stairs or walk for long.
After heart diseases, stroke (paralysis) and diabetes, COPD is the fourth leading cause of death across the globe. It is caused due to smoking, from smoke of earthen stove vehicles' smoke and dust in mines and factories.
New Zealand has the second highest rate of COPD hospital admissions in the developed world and this is putting a burden of $200 million on the public health system annually.
Asthma New Zealand director Linda Thompson says Kiwis need to get educated regarding risk factors attached with COPD, such as smoking and working in poorly ventilated, dusty environments.