Say no to tobacco

Say no to tobacco

Say no to tobacco

Tobacco is the biggest enemy of public health today. The effects of tobacco use, as we all know, are destructive and widespread.

Not many know that tobacco is one of the primary causes of cancer and heart attacks. Many youngsters, in both cities and rural areas, are getting addicted to tobacco use in various forms, which, in the long run, can have an adverse effect on health and life of the population.

According to a recent study conducted by the American Cancer Society, almost 30 per cent of the Indian population, in the age group of 15 years and above, use some form of tobacco. While the early forms of tobacco include chewing tobacco leaves, ghutka and beedis, cigarettes, cigars, chillum and hookahs are equally common, especially in the urban areas.

Tobacco smoke contains approximately 4,000 chemicals in cigarettes, 100s of which are toxic like formaldehyde, ammonia and cadmium. These constituents of cigarettes have a detrimental effect on everything: from the body’s immunity to the functioning of the organs.

Smoking not only puts the active smoker in the danger zone of  diseases but envelopes the innocent passive smokers too into its fold. It has been scientifically proven that smoking causes cancer and a host of other diseases like emphysema, bronchitis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, coronary artery disease, liver cancer, prostate cancer, erectile dysfunction in men, stomach cancer, bladder and kidney cancer, acute myeloid leukemia, cataract, cervical cancer, kidney cancer, pancreatic cancer, periodontitis, pneumonia, oral, buccal, laryngopharyngeal and lung cancer, but somehow even this formidable list does not act as a deterrent for addicted smokers to quit smoking. Research reveals that:

- Smoking tobacco triples your risk of a heart attack  
- Smoking just eight cigarettes a day doubles your heart attack risk
- Light smokers (less than 10 cigarettes a day) who give up smoking, return to normal non-smoking risk of heart attack after 3 to 5 years
- Heavy smokers (more than 20 cigarettes per day) who give up smoking, have a 22 per cent higher heart attack risk 20 years after they quit
- Twenty two hours a week of exposure to second-hand smoke (passive smoking) raises heart attack risk by 45 per cent

Nicotine is addictive and increases cholesterol levels in your body. Nicotine reaches the brain within 10 seconds after the smoke is inhaled. Studies have shown that once nicotine enters the system, traces remain in every part of the body, even in breast milk. Though not all of these health problems related to smoking result in death, the illnesses can limit one’s daily life by making it harder to breathe, work or play.

If you’re a smoker trying to quit, the good news is that there are a number of ‘ways out’ that can help you kick the habit. Nicotine gum, nicotine patches, lozenges and inhalers are designed to help smokers quit. Nicotine replacement therapy works by releasing a small amount of nicotine into the bloodstream, but without the dangerous effects of inhaling tobacco smoke. This provides quick relief from the withdrawal symptoms and cravings that you get when you stop smoking, and allows you to get on with breaking the psychological habit of smoking.

Electronic cigarettes are another alternative which help people quit smoking. Smoke-free, e-cigarettes have batteries instead of tobacco, cartridges instead of nicotine, water vapour instead of smoke.  Though NRT and e-cigarettes have been shown to almost double your chances of successfully quitting smoking, they are not the ultimate solution.

(The contributor is a senior consultant E.N.T and endoscopic surgeon at Nova Specialty Surgery.)