Withdrawal symptoms lead tobacco users to light up all over again

Even though over 90 per cent of the adults in the State are aware that smoking and consuming tobacco causes serious illness, only 37.6 per cent planned to quit or thought about quitting, says the Global Adult Tobacco Survey (GATS) conducted in 2009-2010.

The sample study, conducted by the International Institute for Population Sciences (IIPS) in coordination with the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, is based on interviews of 1,881 people.

Public health experts and psychiatrists point out that even though most smokers are aware of the adverse effects of tobacco, they don’t make an attempt to quit as they experience withdrawal symptoms.

‘Fun’

Prathima Murthy, Professor of Psychiatry and head of the deaddiction centre at NIMHANS, points out that though most are aware of the adverse effects of the , they dont quit as they smoke for fun and perceive it as a “stress buster”.

Gender disparity

Further, the study reveals that there is wide gender disparity with regard to tobacco smoking. While 23.2 per cent of the men smoke tobacco, only 0.3 per cent of the women have the habit. Interestingly, the gender disparity is much lower with regard to smokeless tobacco (such as gutka and chewing tobacco) as 22.7 per cent of the men and 16 per cent of women consume various forms of smokeless tobacco.

On World No Tobacco Day on May 31, public health experts emphasise on the need to ensure that the public policies should not give preferential treatment to the tobacco industry. Upendra Bhojani, public health expert, states that though India played a key role in drawing up the framework convention on tobacco control that was headed by the World Health Organisation, ironically the government’s Indian Tobacco Board promotes various varieties of tobacco and focuses on the development of the tobacco industry.

In order to reduce tobacco consumption, the theme of this year’s World No Tobacco Day is to ban tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship, which experts feel will go a long way in reducing tobacco demand.

Even though Section 5 of the Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Control Act 2003 (COPTA) prescribes for complete ban on all forms of tobacco advertisements, promotions and sponsorships, companies continue to violate the law through indirect or surrogate advertisements.

Dr. Bhojani, however, pointed out that several companies use similar images and logos for tobacco products and non-tobacco products.

Another common violation is that according to the COPTA, point of sale advertisements are not supposed to exceed 60 x 45 cm. However, Dr. Bhojani says, several kiosks have big logos of tobacco companies.

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