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Smokeless tobacco, sheesha equally harmful

New Delhi: If you think smokeless tobacco or sheesha is not harmful for your health, think again.

According to statistics, about six million people in India die every year due to tobacco consumption and approximately 163.7 million users consume only the smokeless variants.

The country is also estimated to be the second largest consumer of tobacco and tobacco products globally. Although there is enough research to prove the harmful effects of tobacco on health, its consumption continues to increase, especially among the younger generation.

Statistics indicate that every year, the number of people dying due to tobacco consumption is higher than that due to tuberculosis, HIV-AIDS, and malaria put together.

Any form of tobacco contains more than 30 cancer-causing substances along with nicotine which can cause irreparable damage to the body. Prolonged chewing of tobacco and usage of tobacco-based products increases the risk of various forms of cancer.

Speaking about this, Dr Manoj Kumar, Associate Director & Head – Cardiac Cath Lab, Max Super Specialty Hospital, Patparganj, New Delhi, said, “Smokeless tobacco and sheesha affect the heart in multiple ways. The high levels of carbon monoxide which go inside the body reduce the oxygen carrying capacity of the blood, leading to an overall drop in the amount of oxygen circulating in the body.”

Adding, “Thus, the heart rate and blood pressure increase drastically leading to a lot of exertion on the cardiovascular system. People addicted to such forms of tobacco are more prone to the risk of cardiac arrests, elevated blood pressure levels, strokes, hemorrhages, blood clots, and other heart-related ailments. People with a risk of cardiac ailments or a history of cardiac arrest have twice the risk of mortality if they continue the usage of snuff or other smokeless tobacco products even after an attack.”

There is no safe form of tobacco. Smokeless tobacco and sheesha, two other variants of tobacco, are equally harmful for heart health. Those forms of tobacco which are not burnt are termed as smokeless.

Sheesha, on the other hand, is a form of fruit-flavored tobacco which is roasted in a foil along with charcoal and passed into a small chamber of water through a glass-bottomed pipe. It is then inhaled slowly.

The WHO points that the total volume of smoke and carcinogens inhaled during an hour-long session of sheesha is equivalent to smoking 100 to 150 cigarettes with an average sheesha user inhaling approximately one-sixth of a litre of smoke in just one inhale.

Adding to this, Dr. Santosh Kumar Agarwal, Senior Interventional Cardiologist, Kailash Hospital and Heart Institute, Noida, said, “All forms of tobacco are dangerous to smokers and non-smokers alike. The nicotine in tobacco is what makes people addicted to it. Whether it is smoking or chewing, tobacco damages blood vessels, temporarily raises blood pressure, and lowers exercise tolerance. It also reduces the oxygen-carrying capacity of blood and increases the tendency for blood to clot. Blood clots in the arteries can further cause a range of heart problems, which ultimately result in a stroke or sudden death.”

Here are some tips to try and quit this deadly habit.

• Try short-acting nicotine replacement therapies such as nicotine gum, lozenges, nasal sprays, or inhalers. These can help you overcome intense cravings.

• Identify the trigger situation, which makes you smoke. Have a plan in place to avoid these or get through them alternatively.

• Chew on sugarless gum or hard candy, or munch raw carrots, celery, nuts or sunflower seeds instead of tobacco.

• Get physically active. Short bursts of physical activity such as running up and down the stairs a few times can make a tobacco craving go away. (ANI)