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Tobacco, smoking scourge in the society

New Delhi: India is the second largest consumer of tobacco and related products. The country records over 8 to 9 lakh deaths every year due to tobacco-related diseases.

It has also been observed that a majority of these are premature deaths. Apart from these figures, there is a vast majority which falls prey to morbid tobacco-related diseases and other chronic ailments.

A survey by the Global Adult Tobacco Survey (GATS) India states that about 35% of teen adults over 15 years use tobacco and 33% of males and 18% of females in the adult category consume some form of smokeless tobacco.

-Tobacco consumption in India

Tobacco consumption in any form, be it cigarettes, beedi, ghutka, pan, khaini, sheesha, or even e-cigarettes can have detrimental effects on your health.

This is by far the most easily available and commonly found hazardous material which is also heavily promoted and marketed. It has been observed that while there is a decline in tobacco consumption among the adult population, there has been a progressive increase in the tobacco consumption among the adolescent and teen adult population.

The most common factors cited for this rapid increase are: peer pressure or societal norms, increase in stress, bad influence, behavioural changes, and parental and sibling addiction and depression.

According to statistics published in the International Research Journal of Social Sciences, the age of initiation into tobacco and related products is falling progressively year on year with the current average being 12 to 18 years.

This early initiation is said to be a major threat as it paves way for other forms of drug addiction and leads to chronic psychological, physical, and mental ailments.

-Impact of tobacco on health

There are many serious health conditions associated with continuous smoking and other forms of tobacco usage.

# COPD, or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease: It is a long-term lung disease which includes chronic bronchitis and emphysema. Smoking is by far the most common cause of COPD :the risk of COPD goes up the more smoking and for longer period. It gets worse over time, and there is no cure. COPD is a leading cause of death in many countries.

# Cancer : This is by far the most prevalent side effects of tobacco consumption globally. According to an estimate given by WHO, about one-third of the global population in the age group 15 and above is at a risk of developing various forms of cancer. Tobacco users are at a higher risk of developing oral, pancreatic, lung, colorectal, throat, and stomach cancer.

The estimate is even more devastating for second-hand smokers or passive smokers. In some cases, these can also lead to many other complications like coronary ailments and other diseases of the heart. Younger tobacco consumers are also at a higher risk of developing oral infections and gum disorders like periodontitis which tends to destroy the bone that holds the teeth to the gums. It also causes the gums to rot and decay leading to many other chronic oral complications.

# Type II Diabetes: It is observed that smokers and tobacco users are 30% to 40% more at risk of developing Type II Diabetes than non smokers. People who are prone to regular tobacco usage also have difficulty in controlling their insulin levels and keeping their blood sugar levels in the normal range.

Smokers with diabetes have higher risks for serious complications like Heart and kidney disease poor blood flow in the legs and feet leading to infections, ulcers, and possible amputation; Retinopathy and Peripheral neuropathy.

# Fractures: Tobacco can decrease the bone density in a person. Excessive tobacco users lose bone density at a very fast pace which puts them at a higher risk of bone damage and fractures. This condition is more prevalent among the young teen and adolescent population which has a lower age of initiation and longer exposure to tobacco and cigarettes.

# Premature births or still births: Pregnant women are at an increased risk of giving premature birth. About 23% of women who are regular users of any form of tobacco are prone to having still births and have a 13% more risk of delivering a baby with birth defects. Women who smoked during pregnancy are more at risk of delivering a baby with orofacial clefts. Tobacco is also said to reduce fertility in women and makes it difficult for them to conceive.

# Arthritis: Rheumatoid arthritis, or the inflammatory disease which affects the joints of hands and feet is a chronic condition that tobacco consumers develop at an earlier age. This condition is usually seen in people in their 50s but, in rare cases, can even occur at an earlier age as a result of bone loss and deformity due to constant exposure to tobacco.

There are many other risk factors associated with tobacco exposure and consumption and all forms of tobacco are equally hazardous to health. The need of the hour is to sensitize the younger population and create awareness at the household level, starting from the elders in the house.

This will be a good beginning and ensure that the younger population doesn’t fall prey to peer and societal pressure and succumb to some form of tobacco addiction. (ANI)