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Smoking on the Rise in India and Many Suffer Pulmonary Disorders, Expert Warns

by Gopalan on November 15, 2007 at 12:50 PM
Smoking on the Rise in India and Many Suffer Pulmonary Disorders, Expert Warns

Smoking is on a steady decline in the Western countries, but in India it has continued to be on the rise.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has estimated that there are around 94 million smokers in India, Dr K H Kisku, Head of the Department of Pulmonary Medicine at the Pondicherry Institute of Medical Sciences (PIMS), said Tuesday.

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Among these 94 million smokers in India, 14 million were suffering from Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), he said, on the eve of World COPD day.

Smoking is the prime cause of COPD and the disease had been found to be the fourth leading cause of deaths, he added.

Asserting that COPD was curable, he however, said that one should quit smoking immediately and undergo treatment for getting better results.
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Kisku said that sometimes even non-smokers would suffer from the COPD due to passive smoking. Constant exposure to fumes from cooking stoves and polluted air could also lead to the disease.

The percentage of damage suffered by the lungs could be ascertained with the help of a spirometer, he said. The PIMS is conducting a free spirometry test till November 16.

Several studies have shown the widespread prevalence of smoking in the country, anywhere between 25 to 50 percent in males above 15 years of age. Actual numbers tend to vary from region to region.

Up to ten per cent of the school going youth of 13- 15 years age are feared to be regular smokers.

Amongst women, smoking was more common in the North Eastern states, Jammu & Kashmir and Bihar, while most other parts of India had prevalence rates of about 4 percent or less.

A study released last year said, " There were 11496 (15.6%) ever smokers in the study sample of 73605 subjects. Among 37682 males, 10756 (28.5%)were ever smokers and among 35923 females, 740 (2.1%) were ever smokers.

"Bidi was the commonest form of smoking, moreso in the rural areas.

"The mean number of cigarettes/bidis smoked per day was 14 ( 11.5) and the mean age of startingsmoking was 20.5 ( 20.0) years. Increasing age, low socio-economic status and rural residence were important factors associated with smoking. Vigorous anti-tobacco measures under the tobacco control programmes yielded only a quit-rate of 10 percent. Nearly 14% of ever smokers had some respiratory symptoms."

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