Pune: Alexander Woollcott, American Critic, once said, “Today just might be the best day to start seriously thinking about quitting smoking.” No Smoking Day is observed on March 10 every year to encourage people globally to quit smoking.
This day aims to spread awareness about the harmful health effects of tobacco consumption. The health risks are known to all but still thousands of youth, between 12 to 17 years of age, start smoking each day. Some begin it out of curiosity, and few might want to look like grownups.
Nearly 5,500 youth are lured into the addiction of a lifetime every day; many people in India face a new test.
Fact file: India has the second-largest number of tobacco consumers (268 million) around the world.
In a current trend, cigarettes are replacing bidis, hookahs, among youth and also illiterate people while among upper classes, cigarettes are being replaced by cigars which have a high concentration of Tobacco-Specific Nitrosamines (TSNAs) that are the strongest cancer-causing substances.
In the latest trend, hookahs are seen as an inclining graph among the youth. Hookah not only carries serious health hazards but also a serious risk of fire hazards. Apart from sheesha (hookah), youth around the age of 17-21 are turning towards vaping. E-hookahs or vaping are termed as a 'cool gadget' amongst some because they can be easily charged (battery-operated), and people do not mind purchasing replacement cartridges costing just a penny.
One of the Paan Shop owners in the city on the condition of anonymity said, “These days cigarettes are costing Rs 20 (per cigarette). If you compare cigarette with hookahs, many youngsters these days are turning towards hookahs and vaping. The prices for hookahs starts from Rs 350 and go to Rs 10,000. Also, vaping is easily available, and it's easy to carry as well as easily rechargeable. Thus, the demand for hookahs is on the rise.”
The smoke from tobacco consists of thousands of chemicals, including at least 80 known to cause cancer. These cancer-causing chemicals are mentioned as carcinogens. Some of the chemicals found in tobacco smoke include lead, hydrogen cyanide, formaldehyde, arsenic and other radioactive elements.
Recently, Anil Deshmukh Maharashtra Home Minister, said that the head of the police station will be held accountable if hookah parlours are found functioning in the area.
Dr Rahul Wagh, a surgical oncologist from Noble Hospital, said, "Tobacco smoke contains almost 80 carcinogens. These cancer-causing agents can lead to many cancers in the body. The recent report by the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) estimates that almost 25 per cent of the cancers in 2020 were tobacco-related.”
“Though warnings are mentioned on the packets of the cigarettes, people are attracted to smoking and are not able to get rid of that. Those who are smokers should take the help of a psychologist so that they can quit smoking. Also, smoking not only causes cancer, but it also leads to many other diseases like cardiovascular disease, stroke, other inflammatory body diseases, etc,” he added.
Dr Aditi Malpani, a physician from Sancheti Hospital, said, “There is a lot of need to create awareness about smoking and its bad effects on health. We should help our loved ones to quit their addiction to smoking. The most common cancers of the oral cavity and lung in men and cervix and breast in women can be caused because of smoking.”
SELF-HELP TIPS TO STOP SMOKING
Make non-smoking friends. Control your cravings. Say to yourself, "I won't even have a single drag.”
Go for nicotine replacement therapy.
A variety of free online apps can help you track your progress.
Chew on sugarless gum or hard candy.