‘The absolute number of male smokers has grown from 79 million in 1998 to 108 million in 2015,’ says director, head, neck and thorax oncology, Fortis Memorial Research Institute, Dr Surender Dabas. But he also mentions that a report about 11 of the 13 States surveyed showed tobacco use declining.
Talking about World No Tobacco Day (31 May) theme ‘Tobacco threatens us all’, he said, ‘According to the National Family Health Survey (NFHS-4) 2015, Government of India, among the 13 States surveyed, tobacco use among men had fallen from 50 per cent in 2005-06 to 47 per cent in 2015. At least 11 of the 13 States in the survey have reported a decline in the numbers between 2005-06 and 2015-16.’
He also said, ‘In Sikkim, there is up to 20 per cent dip in tobacco use. The only two States that showed increase in consumption were Manipur and Meghalaya. Haryana specifically has a 32 per cent prevalence of tobacco usage, with about 3.2 million smokers in 2015. Smoking cessation remains uncommon as only about 5 per cent of men aged 45-59 years are ex-smokers.’
Consumption of tobacco differs among various classes of people, says the survey. While talking about this, the oncologist said, ‘Cigarettes are replacing bidis among younger men and also illiterate men; and among the upper classes, cigarettes are being replaced by cigars which have a high concentration of tobacco-specific nitrosamines (TSNAs) that are the most potent cancer-causing substances.’
He added that ‘E-cigarettes and other electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDS) are also used as substitutes for cigarettes or other tobacco products. Marketers of e-cigarettes and other ENDS often claim the ingredients are safe. But the aerosols of these products contain addictive nicotine, flavorings, and a variety of other chemicals, some known to be toxic or to cause cancer. The levels of many of these substances appear to be lower than in traditional cigarettes, but the nicotine and other substances in these products can vary widely because they are not standardised. The long-term health effects of these devices are not known, but they are being studied,’ he added.
Dabas gave shocking news about the ill-effects of tobacco usage. He said, ‘Tobacco smoke is made up of thousands of chemicals, including at least 70 known to cause cancer. These cancer-causing chemicals are referred to as carcinogens. Some of the chemicals found in tobacco smoke include hydrogen cyanide, formaldehyde, lead, arsenic, benzene, ammonia and radioactive elements,’ he added.
In what should be enough to scare any smokers, he said, ‘Many of these cause cancer and some can cause heart disease, lung disease, or other serious health problems, too. Most of the substances come from the burning tobacco leaves themselves, not from additives included in cigarettes (or other tobacco products). Nicotine, the addictive drug that is the key stimulant people are looking for, is one of the harshest chemicals in tobacco smoke.’
Apart from smoking-tobacco hazards there are smokeless-tobacco hazards too that include chewing tobacco placed in the mouth or nose but is not burned like cigarettes or cigars but still, smokeless products contain a variety of potentially harmful chemicals, including high levels of TSNAs.
‘The cancer-causing agents in smokeless tobacco, such as benzo[a]pyrene and other polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs). These carcinogens are absorbed through the mouth and are linked to oral cancers. Like other forms of tobacco, smokeless tobacco also contains radioactive substances,’ he said.
IT IS A SHAME!
While talking about ‘World No TobaccoDday’, president, Apollo Hospitals Group, Dr Hariprasad, said, ‘It is a shame that even today over a million Indians die each year consuming tobacco. Tobacco is also one of the main contributors of non-communicable diseases (NCDs) such as cancer and heart diseases. The tragedy is that poor people who struggle to cope with basic necessities like housing, education and food are spending a relatively higher portion of their income on tobacco. Furthermore, treatment of conditions arising from tobacco abuse have a huge socio-economic impact on the family and community in general. It is time for all stakeholders, public, private players, policy-makers, health authorities and healthcare players to aggressively campaign against the usage and consumption of tobacco.’
* Tobacco kills more than 7 million people each year.
* 6 million deaths are a result of direct consumption whereas 890 000 are the result of passive smoking.
* The number of premature deaths has increased from 100 million in the 20th century to 1 billion in 21st century.
* Smoking kills over one million people in India annually.
* It is the fourth leading cause of non-communicable diseases (NCDs).
* This accounts for 53% of overall death in India.
* 34.6 % of adults (out of which 47.9% is males and 20.3% is females) are smokers
* 14% adults (out of which 24.3% males and 2.9% females) use smoking tobacco
* 25.9% adults (out of which 32.9% males and 18.4% females) use smokeless tobacco
* The absolute number of male smokers has grown from 79 million in 1998 to 108 million in 2015