According to the WHO, in every eight second
a person is dying of a smoking-related disease such as cancer, heart attack or lung diseases.
Complications of pregnancy caused by tobacco are set to double.
Tobacco currently kills five million a year
and the death toll will rise to 10 million by the 2020s, unless urgent action is taken now.
The average age at which young people take up smoking is 15-18 years
, has the distinction of being the second major harbinger of death
in the world. It is accurately predicted that among the smokers, who number about 650 million, half will eventually die due to the effects of tobacco. It is further disalarming that several thousands of people who are non-smokers die each year from diseases resulting from 'passive'
Dried and cured forms of tobacco are commercially available in several forms but the popular ones are the ubiquitous cigarettes
. Tobacco can also be smoked in pipes or hookahs. They can be chewed upon or snuffed too. Regional products like the 'bidis'
, manufactured in India, are also very popular.
With powerful anti-smoking campaign on the rise the tobacco companies have resorted to amazing marketing strategies to keep the popularity of tobacco alive. New products such as fruit-flavored, chocolate-flavored, additive-free
and organic cigarettes
are flooding the market. There is a conscious effort to make cigarettes look harmless
and their attractive names, flavor and 'glow-in -the -dark'
packaging are aimed at promoting the product to the young.
In the Middle East 'sheesha'
or water-pipe smoking is getting increasingly popular among teenagers. Many believe that it is relatively safe because the smoke passes through water. However, serious forms of lung disease, oral and bladder cancer and addiction are associated with 'sheesha'. Women who use them during pregnancy face an increased risk of having babies with low birth weight.
It does not help to substitute regular cigarettes with seemingly innocuous -looking ones such as filter or low-tar cigarettes. All forms of tobacco are hazardous to health.
Nicotine gets absorbed into the user's blood stream and, with time, the individual becomes tolerant
and dependent on tobacco. Nicotine is a highly addictive substance and the user soon gets hooked on to it to maintain a sense of well-being.
There is no known triggers
that induces a person to start smoking. On the contrary there are several reasons why it should be avoided. The following are some of the reasons-
Chemicals like nicotine and cyanide, present in cigarettes, are poisonous
with a potential to kill in high- enough doses.
Long-term effects of smoking leads to health problems
like cancer, emphysema (breakdown of lung tissue), heart disease, stroke and organ damage. Every cigarette takes about 5- 20 minutes off the person's life.
Smoking, like cocaine and morphine, is understood to have the ability to make permanent brain changes
Smokers have a high risk to lose bone density and develop osteoporosis
They also tend to be less active
as they may suffer from rapid heartbeat, decreased circulation, and shortness of breath.
Smoking affects the body's ability to produce collagen, so injuries tend to heal more slowly
An individual who smokes tends to develop wrinkles
and yellow teeth.
• Infertility problems
and impaired sexual health is common among individuals who smoke.
Smokers tend to have pale and unhealthy skin
due to poor circulation. They tend to have bad breath or halitosis
, bad smelling clothes and hair.
Smokers are more prone to develop illnesses
like colds, flu, bronchitis, and pneumonia than nonsmokers.
People with health conditions, like asthma
become more sick if they smoke.
Tobacco dependence creates a chronic relapsing condition as a result of nicotine addiction and may require medical management.
Besides all these health implications smoking is a very expensive habit
Secondary tobacco smoking is also a health hazard
and is capable of causing grave illnesses like cancer, serious respiratory and cardiovascular diseases in both children and adults, often leading to premature death. There is no safe level at which passive smoking can be done and the only method to protect non-smokers is by eliminating smoking.
Therefore several law-enforcing bodies have pitched in an effort to minimize damage by banning smoking in work places and also in public.
There is a lot of information
available for individuals who want to quit. Some prefer to stop smoking abruptly while others prefer to go slow. As smoking is addictive, some may realize that they could do with a little help from support groups, plenty of which is available. The Internet is abound with enough messages on how to stop smoking.
Recently researchers have developed a pill to help quit smoking. The drug, Champix
(Varenicline) targets the nicotinic receptor in a unique way to reduce the intensity of the smoker's craving and also the severity of the withdrawal symptoms. The drug marketed by Pfizer
is expected to do wonders in this area.
There is substantial evidence to demand immediate measures to free the world from the tobacco menace and the sole effective step is by creating 100% smoke-free environments. This can be done, partially, by creating large-scale awareness
, especially among the 'yet-to-be-initiated' groups. The other method is to activate the 'long arm' of the law and to universally ban public smoking
. This is to save the passive smokers who are but victims of the 'folly' of a few.
The smoke-free path is the way to go for obvious reasons; better health, wealth and looks are enticing incentives! It might be apt to recall the old adage that health, indeed, is true wealth. Resorting to measures that ruin health is akin to bidding farewell to life!