Dr Shivali Ahlawat Lab Head- National Reference Lab, Gurugram Head- East & South Regional Labs Oncquest Laboratories Ltd
Tobacco intake harms your body in countless ways. It is imperative to consider the harmful effect it has on your body, family, society and financial aspects. It may appear as fun to start with ,when teenagers develop the habit either from their surroundings or imitating the facade of machoism by their TV characters.
Tobacco intake is in two forms, smoking and smokeless tobacco. Smoking tobacco includes the cigarettes, bidi, hukka, chillam, while Khaini, gutka, betel quids and zarda are a form of smokeless tobacco. It is fascinating to acknowledge that human consumption of tobacco leads to the 3Ds (death, diseases and disability) still they consume tobacco. More than 1 million adults die out of the 267 million who consume tobacco at the current rate.
Although tobacco leaves have been used as a medicinal remedy or used in rituals, their prolonged consumption is a health hazard. Tobacco leads to deleterious effects on the body; the major problems are heart disease, stroke and lung disease. It is a significant factor to lifestyle diseases.
Passive smokers and non-smoking tobacco
Smoking affects smokers and the people around them; according to a Global Adult Tobacco Survey (GATS) survey, there are 41000 adult deaths among passive smokers who get introduced to smoking indirectly. It affects the lungs immensely. There are multiple lung diseases associated with smoking. Tobacco contains nicotine, tar and nitrosamine, which build up in the lungs and destroys the lung walls and alveoli. Some of the diseases common in passive smokers are acute respiratory infection, severe asthma, respiratory symptoms and slow lung growth. Smokers take multiple lives along with them!
Non-smoking tobacco intake like gutka, paan masala, and khaini are responsible for the formation of mucosal surface changes, keratosis patches, and nicotine stomatitis in the mouth. It is also widely responsible for 90-95% of oral cancer. It is essential to understand that tobacco affects each part of the body; it also is a reason for eye diseases, tuberculosis, rheumatoid arthritis and more. Listing the name of the disease would not encourage quitting tobacco but ignoring the advertising jingles, which glamorise tobacco consumption, will make some difference.
Lung problems for smokers
Smoking is resonated with relieving stress and improving concentration in many cultures. People follow their idols and get influenced by the advertisements. It’s a myth which many people have to succumb to at the cost of their health. Two decades before there was no ban on tobacco advertisements, it was the time of Marlboro Man on a horse in a cowboy suit lighting a cigarette. It influenced the kids to smoke, which is reflected in the stats; 29% of the adults are addicted to smoking, and by the age of 35- 45, they suffer from acute or severe lung diseases.
Lungs are spongy, air-filled organs consisting of small air spaces called alveoli, where gas exchange occurs and larger bronchi, trachea and blood vessels. They are essential organs which circulate oxygens in the blood.Smoking causes severe illnesses like Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), including Emphysema and Chronic Bronchitis. Besides, 95 % of lung cancer cases occur in smokers’.
It is a challenge to humanity to overcome this tobacco addiction. Howsoever, it is difficult to completely ban it, as thousands of lives depend on the tobacco industry for their livelihood. People should be educated about its harmful effect, and more deaddiction centres should be opened to help people tackle their addiction. This will at least minimise the adverse effect of smoking. As the saying prevails, “healthy society makes a healthy nation!”