Everyday 5,500 children get lured into tobacco addiction of a  life time : Expert

Everyday 5,500 children get lured into tobacco addiction of a  life time and one-third of them put their life at risk as a consequence, inviting cancer, heart attack, brain attack and asthma said Dr Naresh Purohit , Principl Investigator for National Integrated Disease Surveillance Programme at a Continuing Medical Education (CME)  Programme on Dangers of Smoking and Drinking organised by  

Chamba based Pt Jawahar Lal Nehru Government Medical College.

After addressing the CME virtually,   noted epidemiologist Dr Purohit told us here that India has the second-largest number of tobacco consumers (268 million) around the world. People with compromised respiratory and cardiovascular systems are at higher risk of death.

“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.” he added 

“Secondhand smoking is as harmful as smoking. Exposure to secondhand smoke causes lung cancer and heart disease in adults, and the impairment of the lung function and respiratory infections in children.” he cautioned.

Dr Purohit also Advisor for National Cancer Control Programme said that smoking worsens lung function and reduces immunity. All designated smoking areas in hotels and restaurants and even airports should be abolished to ensure a 100 per cent smoke-free environment. Most of these designated smoking areas are rarely compliant as per Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products Act (COTPA) requirements and are actually putting our public at great health risk from exposure to secondhand smoke.

“In India, smoking is banned in all public places under the Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products (Prohibition of Advertisement and Regulation of Trade and Commerce Production, Supply and Distribution) Act, 2003. Section 4 of this Act prohibits smoking in any place to which the public has access.”he averred 

He added that COTPA 2003, presently allows smoking in certain public places like restaurants, hotels, and airports in designated smoking areas.

Renowned Infectious Disease Expert stated that one million deaths are due to smoking with over 2,00,000 due to secondhand smoke exposure, and over 35,000 are due to smokeless tobacco use.

“Nearly 27 per cent of all cancers in India are due to tobacco usage. The total direct and indirect cost of diseases attributable to tobacco use was a staggering Rs 1.82 crore which is nearly 1.8 per cent of India’s GDP” he added

He pointed that 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.

Experts in the CME said that  tobacco smoke contains almost 80 carcinogens. These cancer-causing agents can lead to many cancers in the body. 

They said that according to the  recent report by the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) estimates almost 25 per cent of the cancers  were tobacco-related.”

They averred that 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.

They emphasized that there is a lot of need to create awareness about smoking and its bad effects on health. The most common cancers of the oral cavity and lung in men and cervix and breast in women can be caused because of smoking.

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