Tobacco addiction has been recognised as the single largest cause of preventable death and disability worldwide. Every year millions of people die due to tobacco use. India accounts for nearly 1.35 million deaths every year and it is also the second largest consumer and producer of tobacco.
The ‘World No Tobacco Day’ is being observed to raise awareness among individuals, communities and policymakers about this largest single preventable cause of death, through its effect on people and environment, causing disability, disease and loss of productivity, death and cost, says Dr. Murali Krishna Voonna, Managing Director, Mahatma Gandhi Cancer Hospital & Research Institute.
Nearly 80 lakh people die every year globally, of whom 13.5 lakh are Indians. Smoking causes death through cancer, heart attacks, brain strokes, COPD and peripheral vascular diseases. The effects on the environment are through deforestation, 84 megatons of Green House gas emissions a year, contamination of soil and water due to toxins and contamination of soil by the micro plastics in the cigarette butts and single use non-biodegradable pouches and e-cigarettes.
The impact can be reduced by raising awareness among people, high taxation on tobacco products, making strict laws against smoking in public places, ban on direct and indirect forms of advertisements, active support to those who decide to quit tobacco to various means, imposing penalties on the tobacco companies for the environment damages, encourage and support tobacco farmers to shift to sustainable and alternative crops, health education from school-level and cancer screening for smokers and those quit smoking for early diagnosis of cancer, says Dr. Murali Krishna.
‘Women smokers increasing’
“Female smoking has enormous consequences not only on women’s health and economic wellbeing but also on their families. Apart from the health risks that women share with men, women face additional hazards like adverse pregnancy outcomes, female specific cancers such as cancer of breast, cervix, and increased cardiovascular risks,” says Dr. K.S. Phaneendra Kumar, consultant pulmonologist of KIMS ICON hospital.
The increasing prevalence of smoking among women is a matter of serious public health concern. Unless sustained and effective initiatives are implemented the prevalence of female smoking is likely to rise to 20% by 2025. The Global Adult Tobacco Survey (2010), carried out in 29 States of the country and two Union Territories of Chandigarh and Pondicherry, has shown a declining trend among males, and an overall increasing trend of female smoking during 2005-09.
The growing spending power among women and weakening of social and cultural constraints due to globalisation and economic transition are seen as some of the reasons for this alarming trend.