Tobacco smoking is already a major health problem in India and one that will worsen unless we act. Smoking alone is estimated to cause nearly 10 lakh deaths a year in India. About 1/3rd of Indian men now smoke; the number of women who smoke is lower but the health risks are just as dangerous for both. 70% of deaths from tobacco use occur during middle age when people are still in the most productive part of their lives and not in the old age.
Chewing tobacco products such as gutka is common in India. Chewing causes over half of the deaths from oral cancers and women are especially hard hit. More young people are now chewing and pre-cancerous conditions such as mouth lesions are increasing among youth.
Fact 1: Chewing is common among men and women all over. In India 31% men and 19% women chew tobacco products and the percentage of people chewing in Uttar Pradesh is much higher with 69% men and 22% women addicted to tobacco products. Tobacco use by pregnant women leads to low birth weight babies, still births and birth defects.
Fact 2: Chewing is more common among the poorest as per Global Adult Tobacco Survey India 2010.About 30% of poorest, 23% of middle income group and only 13% of higher income group people chew tobacco products.
Fact 3: Women who chew tobacco have especially high risks of dying from oral cancer. 3.8% of women in the age –group 30-69 years face relative risk of dying from chewing than 1.5% of men. The relative risk of dying from oral cancer is greater among women but men have higher background death rates so the absolute risks are more equal.
In Farrukhabad 90,000 men in the age-group 15-69 years smoke, of these 50,000 will be killed by smoking. 70% will die during their productive years of 15-69 while 30% will die in the old age. More men about 59% smoke in Bihar in 2015 then previous years. 612 lakh men who smoke cigarettes lose 10 years of life where as 687 lakh men who smoke bidis lose 6 years of life.
The usage of tobacco is not just costing lives but it is imposing economic burdens on our country’s health care systems that force health facilities to spend a great share of their precious resources in treating largely preventable diseases. Tobacco use also costs individual families as the cost of treatment for serious diseases like cancer or stroke can push families into poverty.
Tobacco use pushes 22,000 people into poverty every year in. Farrukhabad Tabacco costs the district Rs. 09 crore every year. Police have an important role in the implementation of tobacco control laws. Of 1000 policemen who smoke 350 will be killed by tobacco at ages 15-69, a staggering figure.
Smoking cessation is the single most important action smokers can take to improve their health and lengthen their lives. But quit rates in India are very low at 3%. Quitting by age 40 and preferably earlier, avoids nearly all the risks. After quitting within 12 hours carbon dioxide levels decrease and oxygen levels increase. Within 3 months, heart attack risk drops and lung functions improve. Within 1 year, risk of sudden heart attack is cut in half and within 5 years risk of cancer of the mouth, throat, esophagus and bladder is halved.
Section 4 of the Cigarettes and other Tobacco Products Act (COTPA) prohibits smoking in public places defined as any place to which the public have access whether as of right or not, but does not include any open space. Smoking is also prohibited at open spaces that are visited by the public like open auditoriums, stadiums, railway stations, bus stops and other such places. Individuals smoking in a public place are liable to pay a fine of up to Rs 200.
Source : Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (Govt of India)
Mohd Bilal Khan is a student pursuing HMTT from Jamia Millia Islamia.
Edited by: Yusuf Aziz