Stress-relief is cited single largest reason for picking up the habit

The metro has found its way to the top of a ranking of Indian cities with respect to cigarette consumption. A recent study has brought to light several other alarming statistics too.

A national survey on tobacco usage habits found that puffing nine to 10 pieces per day, Kolkata had dubious distinction of a city with the highest figure of cigarette consumption. A total of 49 per cent of the sample surveyed in Kolkata, inhaled the injurious smoke compared to 43 per cent nationally.

Weekly spends on cigarettes averaged at Rs. 348 in Kolkata with stress-relief being cited as the single largest reason for picking up the butt. The statutory warnings on cigarette packs and the scary visuals accompanying it, have scarcely acted as a deterrent. Consumption has increased in Kolkata and a whopping 93 per cent of the respondents said they were aware of the carcinogenic threat. An equally alarming 94 per cent of the city respondents said they have never tried to ‘kick the habit,’ with over half of the respondents saying that they were too addicted to tobacco.

The survey looked at the various patterns of tobacco consumption and its social and psychological influence on a consumers’ lifestyle. It has been done by GfK Mode, a market research agency. It looked at all forms of tobacco consumption including gutkha, bidi, pan masala with tobacco, cigar, hookah, and chewing tobacco, besides cigarettes.

The reasons cited included work-pressure, boost in stamina and work capacity increased-social interaction (parties, gatherings and meetings) and improved confidence.

Chewing tobacco products is found to be more unhealthy by the respondents here followed by the smoking of bidis. The survey was conducted on behalf of ICICI Lombard as part of its health and safety campaign.

The survey also found that not only did the people here believe that their health will not be affected adversely by smoking, (since it had remained unaffected despite prolonged use), but they did not have a health insurance policy. Many felt that health insurance purchase was a tax savings instrument.