Kick Tobacco Out of Our Lives!
By: Amit Pal
In economically developed countries, about 3
million people die each year from smoking, half of them before the age of 70,
and these represent about twenty percent of all deaths. Cancers of eight
different sites are directly associated with smoking, and six other potentially
fatal diseases are also judged to be caused by smoking. There is no doubt that
smoking kills, and attitudes to the habit have changed rapidly in the past 30
One million people die in India each year due to
tobacco-related diseases such as cancer, bronchitis, ulcer, heart attacks, and
hemiplegias. Ten percent of school children between 11 and 15 years of age
smoke. Fifty five percent men and sixteen percent women of more than fifteen
years are group are regular tobacco addicts. The rate among schedule tribes and
schedule castes are about twelve to fourteen percent higher than the national
average. The rates in rural areas are higher by about eighteen percent than in
Tobacco smoke contains 4,000 chemicals of which 43 are carcinogenic -
cancer-causing substances. Smoking, mainly of cigarettes causes cancer of the
lung, upper respiratory tract, esophagus, bladder and pancreas and probably of
the stomach, liver, and kidney. Smoking is implicated in chronic myelocytic
leukemia and may also cause cancer of the colons and rectum and other organs.
Whether smoking will result in malignancy depends on several factors, including
the frequency of smoking, the cigarettes "tar" content, and most important the
duration of habit. Taking up the habit while very young substantially amplifies
the risk. The risks vary from one type of cancer to another, thus on average,
smokers are twice as likely to be afflicted with cancer of the bladder but eight
times more likely to contract cancer of the lung.
Nicotine, an additive substance which releases
from burning tobacco, attatches itself to tiny bits of tar. The tar gets into
the lungs and is absorbed in the blood stream, research the brain and constricts
the blood vessels, raises blood pressure, gives the ventral nervous system a
small jolt, in the long run it can lead to reproductive disorders, lung cancer,
emphysema, and coronary heart disease. "Smoking is hazardous to health" - the
statutory warning on cigarette packs exists on paper only. Do you know:
third of all cancers are due to tobacco?
cigarette reduces your life span by 5.5 minutes?
Ninety nine percent of the population in rural India is unaware of any side
effects of tobacco use?
What, then, is the remedy?
It is in this context I should refer, the need to
involve more and more of our youngsters. Creation of mass awareness of the
ill-effects of bad practices is a good starting point. Of course, think
globally, act locally.
The 2,200 villagers of Koolimadu of Kerala, have
taken it seriously. With the district administration declaring it tobacco-free,
smoking has just been banned in this tiny hamlet, you run the risk of being
excommunicated for a day if you flout the ban (India Today, Dec 15, 1996). Today
"Koolimadu is tobacco-free zone". We need more and more Koolimadu villages. In
USA, "no pack to under 18s" regulation introduced by the Federal Drug Agency
(FDA), require the venders to ask "ID please" before they let the pack of
cigarettes out for the money slipped in. The regulation requires the sellers of
tobacco products to check that the buyers are at least 18 years old. FDA banned
tobacco ads on TV. Next in line is ban on sponsorship by cigarette companies of
sporting events, concerts and display of their logos on baseball caps and
But in our country only one word is possible -
"please" - stop smoking, save family - SAVE OUR ENVIRONMENT.