Replacing the smoke on your face with a smile today will replace illness in your life with happiness tomorrow
Tobacco is one of the most notoriously abused drug substances among the rural and urban populations in the developing world. According to the Central Tobacco Research Institute (CTRI) India, the origin of Tobacco cultivation is located in the Peruvian/Ecuadorian Andes. Estimates for its first date of cultivation range from 5000-3000 BC. According to one source, tobacco was in existence in Asia even during the 12th century, when it was not known elsewhere. It was not only used as an intoxicant but also as a cure for all kinds of ills and paying homage to deities. However, it was Christopher Columbus who discovered the narcotic qualities of tobacco by accident in the course of his American voyage in 1492. On landing in the Islands of Tobago, Columbus and his men were taken by surprise to find the natives either sniffing a powdered dry leaf with evident pleasure or smoking a roughly made roll of dried-up leaves. On trying these themselves, Columbus and his men were satisfied with the intoxicant produced. They took along with them some quantity of dried leaves as well as that of the seeds and that was how tobacco got introduced into Europe. Tobacco is said to have been introduced into India in the beginning of the 17th century. Tobacco, as elsewhere in the world, has thrived in spite of considerable neglect and social disapproval in India. Currently it is an important commercial crop of the country earning around 6000 crores foreign exchange and 20000 crores excise revenue. Further, it is providing livelihood security to 45 million people including farmers, farm laborers, tendu leaf puckers, bidi rollers, traders etc. Tobacco cultivation in India was introduced by the Portuguese in 1605. Initially tobacco was grown in Kaira and Mehsana districts of Gujarat and later spread to other areas of the country.
Although the ill – effects of tobacco are well known, its addictive nature (due to nicotine) does not allow a person to give up the consumption of tobacco. According to the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), tobacco contributes to 30% of all cancers amongst men and women of our country. Mouth cancer followed by lung cancer is the commonest cancer in men. 42% of male and 18% of female deaths are attributed to tobacco-related cancers in India. 69 of the 4800 chemicals found in tobacco cause cancer. As per the statistics, tobacco is responsible for one death every second. Tobacco either smoked or smokeless, is a silent, relentless killer that is responsible for the ill health of not only the consumer but also the family due to second – hand – smoke, especially for young children and pregnant women, and loss of life at a younger age. Besides lung and mouth cancer, tobacco causes cancer of the voice box (larynx), oesophagus (food – pipe), bladder, kidney, stomach, pancreas and colon. A pledge to stop tobacco use either as cigarette/ bidi or as smokeless tobacco can reduce the total burdens of cancers by 30% and save many young lives.
Smoking causes lung cancer. It increases heart rate and blood pressure. It can cause heart attack and stroke. It slows down the blood flow cutting off oxygen to feet and hands. Carbon monoxide present in smoke decreases the oxygen supply to muscles and brain making these organs stressed. Statistical data revealed by the World Health Organization (WHO) indicates that the tobacco epidemic is one of the biggest public health threats, killing more than 7 million people a year. Cigarettes are smoked by over 1.1 billion people globally. More than 7 million of those deaths are the result of direct tobacco use while around 890,000 deaths are the result of non-smokers being exposed to second-hand smoke.
The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that nearly 7,000,000 deaths are attributed to direct tobacco use, while approximately 1,200,000 non-smokers exposed to second hand cigarette smoke die every year. Accordingly, tobacco use is a major threat to the public health infrastructure; therefore, proper cessation interventions must be put in place to curb tobacco abuse and ease economic and social burdens caused by the tobacco epidemic. Saying no to tobacco is saying yes to life. Let us save lives around us by making them aware of threats tobacco poses to all of us.
– The writer, from Srinagar, Kashmir, J&K, is a regular writer for various newspapers and can be reached at email@example.com