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The Smoky evil - Cigarettes

Updated on May 2, 2015

Kids know Smoking Kills! Strange that you don't

Last week, while going back home from office, I saw a bunch of kids standing outside my apartments with placards and banners in their hands with “SMOKING IS INJURIOUS TO HEALTH” slogan handwritten and graffiti.

My apartments is next to a BPO so it works round the clock and employees working there come out frequently for smoking and tea breaks. Even though it is prohibited to smoke in that zone but nobody bothers. I saw one of the kid asking the smoker, “Why do you smoke when you know it is bad for your health?” To which that person didn't have any answer to and he left that place giving an intimidating look to the kid. The look of that person revealed his guilt and it is surprising that all those folks are well educated and pretty well know the ill-effects of smoking tobacco but are unable to escape the vicious trap.

The grayish hazy devil coming out of the nostrils and mouth is so daunting that it coerces me to imagine the succor one gets out of smoke, which is in reality burning their lungs and mouth. What may look like a stress reliever initially is actually a life taker. The statistics look terrifying, one in every 10 adults die because of tobacco consumption. This problem is worse in developing countries, specially Indian sub-continent where cheap tobacco products are available.

I asked a few of my friends and acquaintances who smoke on how was their experience when they smoked their first puff. And the reply aligns with the expectation, they ended up coughing and it was not a good experience for them. But over the time consumption of nicotine resulted in addiction making them feel that the smoke is their Samaritan.

Smoking has now become a habit which is difficult to curb. In this article, I am going to elucidate more on the ill-effects of smoking (active and passive both), the taxation policies of the Indian sub-continent and measures taken by the government to discourage tobacco consumption.

Cigarette and its internal fatal allies

There are approximately 600 ingredients in cigarettes which when burned create more than 7000 chemicals. The cigarette smoke contains over 4000 chemicals including 43 known carcinogenic compounds and 400 other toxins. It contains nicotine, tar, carbon monoxide, formaldehyde, ammonia, hydrogen cyanide, arsenic and DDT. I will not go deep in discussing how bad each of these components can be for our health as the health implications of these are ubiquitous

In a nutshell, these components of tobacco interferes with the normal functioning of the lungs and leads to the production of mucus. They also paralyse the cilia - tiny hair-like structures that line the airways and clean out dust and dirt.

The elastic walls of the small airways within the lungs are broken down. This reduces the amount of lung tissue available for the transfer of oxygen from the air to the blood. This condition is called emphysema. This is an irreversible damage to lungs and is the trigger for lung cancers.


Second hand smoking

Second hand smoking which we call Passive smoking is equally dangerous. Exhaled smoke is called Exhaled Mainstream smoke. And the smoke that drifts off from a lit cigarette is called side stream smoke. The combination of these two is the biggest indoor pollutant and hazardous to health.

Tobacco smoke cools rapidly making it heavier than the air and thus keeps on hanging in middle. So there is a constant low-lying cloud of tobacco smoke due to indoor smoking.

Health Implications

Risking others life

Due to passive smoking we endanger the lives of our own dear ones. Here is the list of health hazards, we deliberately put our near and dear ones to:

Children: develop a range of respiratory diseases like bronchitis, pneumonia and middle ear infections.

Pregnant women and unborn babies: Chances of miscarriage and stillbirth increase. Also there are studies which show if the pregnant woman smokes then that can impact the fetus negatively.

People who do not smoke but are passive smokers are at high risk of contracting coronary heart diseases. Long time exposure to second hand smoke can lead to the development of atherosclerosis.

Imagine if the passive smoker is at such a high health risk, what would happen to the active smoker, who smokes consciously.

Tar deposited due to smoking is venomous, Please quit smoking

Tobacco use is the second cause of death globally (after hypertension) and is currently responsible for killing one in 10 adults.

— World Health Organisation

Bidis command a whopping 85% of the Smoking tobacco market share in India and ironically is exempted from taxes even though they are equally harmful as cigarettes. Nearly 85% of the tobacco tax revenue comes from the cigarettes which holds only 15% of the market share.

Research from both high- and low-income countries has demonstrated that tobacco tax and price increases are the most effective tools to reduce tobacco use; they promote cessation among current users, deter young people from taking up tobacco use. Indian government needs to take cognizance of this fact and look into this method seriously to discourage the consumption of tobacco.

India is the second-largest producer of tobacco after China in the world. However, it has only 0.7% share of the $30 billion global trade in tobacco.Bidis and Cigarettes combined together, have a 52% share in the Indian market when it comes to smoking tobacco products.

(Bidis: small, thin, hand-rolled cigarettes primarily manufactured in India and other Southeast Asian countries. They comprise tobacco wrapped in a tendu or temburni leaf (plants native to Asia) and may be secured with a colorful string at one or both ends)

The easy availability and affordability of the tobacco products has led to the increased consumption and addiction. If we look at the affordability index, Bidi is the most affordable and it is the most dangerous one. Bidi is the 'poor man's cigareter' which comes loaded with the chromosome-damaging, cancer-causing, genes altering poisons in comparison to a regular cigarettes. This is the reason, India tops the charts when it comes to oral and lung cancer cases.

E-Cigarette is another category of cigarette, which is a battery-powered vaporizer which produces a similar feel to tobacco smoking. It is costlier than the usual cigarettes and is popular among the upper middle classes. It contains nicotine, propylene glycol, glycerol, etc. Even though, it does not contain tar, but nicotine content is very high in it and thus is very addictive. WHO has still not approved of it as a cigarette cessation method.

Mantra to quit smoking- Self Control

A strong commitment level is required from the end of the tobacco addict to stop smoking and live a smokeless life.

  • Nicotine Replacement Therapy- Talk with your doctor about nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) to help deal with cravings. The nicotine nasal spray and the nicotine inhaler are available by prescription.
  • Avoid urges- Identify your trigger situations and have a plan in place to avoid them entirely or get through them without using tobacco.
  • Keep yourself occupied- Eat a sugar gum, or a hard candy, or nuts to keep your mouth satisfied and relieved.

There will be times when one would have the urge to have "just one cigarette" but please try to control the urge. As consuming one would lead to consuming another then one will be back to square one.

Right to a healthy life

Tobacco kills nearly 6 million people each year. More than five million of those deaths are the result of direct tobacco use while more than 600 000 are the result of non-smokers being exposed to second-hand smoke. Unless urgent action is taken, the annual death toll could rise to more than eight million by 2030. (Source WHO, 2014)

It is our prerogative to live a healthy and addiction free life. Why should we knowingly push ourselves into a ditch from which we can never come back once trapped.

Quit Smoking Today and live a Tar-Free life.

Issued in Public Interest: Alghanim Industries
Issued in Public Interest: Alghanim Industries


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