It is crucial to spread awareness on the evils of using tobacco, as it kills one in 10 adults worldwide, Health Minister V.S. Vijay said here, on the occasion of World No Tobacco Day.

He was speaking at a human chain awareness programme organised at the Madras Medical College, by the department of Surgical Gastroenterology and CANSTOP. India is the second largest tobacco consuming nation, Dr. Vijay said, adding that there are over 4,000 chemicals that are added to tobacco, 50 of them definitely carcinogenic. While it is widely believed that smoking causes heart attacks and lung problems, it is also true that it causes heart burn, gastritis, peptic ulcer, cancers of the mouth, oesophagus, stomach, pancreas and colon, he added.

S. M. Chandramohan, head of the Surgical Gastroenterology Department, said a WHO survey indicated that over 30 per cent of adults were unaware that tobacco can cause cancer and strokes. Highlighting the dangers of passive smoking, he said, it is now a right for every person to demand smoke-free air to breathe. An alarming trend is that while smoking is decreasing in high-income countries, it is actually increasing in low-income countries.

Health Secretary (In Charge) S.Vijayakumar, Deputy Director (Medical Education) A.Sukumaran, doctors, nurses, nursing and medical students, and volunteers of CANSTOP took part in the human chain.