Author: Poornima Nataraj
Surrendering to temptation of having a puff of nicotine to release tension, not only gives momentary pleasure but inflicts a long lasting damage on your biological system.
There has been no decrease in the number of deaths due to tobacco use, despite large-scale efforts to educate masses on the health hazards of tobacco consumption. And, what’s more concerning is the fact that not only men but a considerable percentage of women are also succumbing to the addiction at the risk of serious health complications.
The World Health Organisation’s theme for this year’s World No Tobacco Day focusses on “gender and tobacco, with emphasis on marketing to women.” It highlights the harmful effects of tobacco marketing and smoke on women and girls.
Dr Prathima Murthy, Professor of Psychiatry and Head of De-addiction Centre at National Institute of Mental Health and Neurological Sciences (NIMHANS), informs that any form of tobacco use harms every organ of one’s body.
“Chewing tobacco has a certain cultural acceptance in our country, leading to a high prevalence of oral cancer. However, smoking has much wider ill-effects, especially for women who are more prone as their biological system is more vulnerable to such toxic substances,” she says. Dr Murthy says women tend to take up smoking to relieve stress. There is also a rage to stay slim through smoking with the low nicotine content cigarettes. Irrespective of the percentage of nicotine content, there are other harmful substances which do not reduce the severity of damage to one’s health, she adds.
There are 18 Tobacco Cessation Centres in India where nearly 21,500 males and 1,820 females have registered themselves to give up tobacco use. “Although there are a variety of treatments to give up tobacco use, many patients, particularly, women do not come for a follow-up. There is also a social stigma attached in visiting these centres,” she adds.
In India, 57 per cent of men and 10 per cent of women use tobacco in some form or the other, which totalls to around 41 million tobacco users, according to Dr Murthy. And, majority of these are tobacco chewers than smokers, she adds.
According to the records at the Kidwai Memorial Institute of Oncology, 95 per cent of patients have oral cancer due to tobacco chewing and nearly 1,000 new patients get added to the existing burden. Head and neck cancer and larynx cancer are indirectly associated to tobacco related cancer. The hospital receives nearly 100 patients per annum for lung cancers. In Kidwai alone, 200 patients die due to tobacco related cancer every year.