Health experts hoist an alert that by 2020, the use of tobacco will lead to death of 8.4 million people across the globe and at least 70% of these will occur in the developing countries.
Pointing out that tobacco-related diseases were the single most important cause of preventable deaths in the world, they said there has been a rise of 20 percent of women smokers due to lifestyle changes.
"In all 50 percent of the cancers in India are directly or indirectly related to tobacco consumption," said Sudhir Khandelwal, Head of Psychiatric department, All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS).
"Every form of tobacco consumption such as gutka, inhaling and the paan causes the same damage that chewing tobacco does. Slowly and slowly there comes a time when people get addicted to it," he said, adding that the youth consuming tobacco in any indirect form was more likely to get into active consumption of tobacco with time.
Sonali Jhanjee, Additional Professor of the Psychiatric Department, said the disturbing trend as earlier age of initiation leads to higher chances of getting addicted to tobacco and greater health damage in the longer term.
The Global Youth Tobacco Survey stated that in India the percentage of students who initiated bidi smoking before 10 years of age has increased from 26 percent to 45 percent.
"India also has one of the highest rates of oral cancer in the world, partly attributed to high prevalence of tobacco chewing. It is also associated with more common dental ailments such as dental caries, periodontal disease and tooth loss," said Jhanjee.
She added that the tobacco addiction was now recognized as a chronic medical illness on the same lines as hypertension and asthma. "Treatment in the form of both medicines and counseling is available to treat tobacco use and a psychiatrist may be approached for the same in both government or private setting," she said.