New Delhi, May 30 (IANS) Most of the 2,700-odd people who will die in the next 24 hours in India due to cancer caused by smoking and other tobacco products tried to quit but failed and were living their last days with a feeling of being powerless over their habit.
As we celebrate the World No Tobacco Day on May 31, and cigarettes and other tobacco products keep getting produced and sold, experts say 2,739 people lose their lives everyday in India due to tobacco, as the quit rate is only about three per cent.
“It’s an irony that in coming 24 hours, 2,739 people will lose their lives due to cancer caused by use of tobacco and other tobacco products…because the quit rate is very low — only about three per cent in India,” Sambandh Health Foundation trustee Sanjay Seth said.
With such a low probability of quitting and such a high probability of tobacco use leading to a multitude of diseases, the prevalence of tobacco has been rightly termed as the “Tobacco Epidemic”, said the head of tobacco control at the non-profit organization.
Another non-profit, Foundation for a Smoke-Free World, in their study “The State of Smoking 2018” based on a survey of smokers in 13 nations including India found that 68 per cent of smokers are “well-informed” about the impact of smoking on one’s health.
“Despite nearly seven of 10 smokers in India being aware that smoking is dangerous, 53 per cent have been unsuccessful in their attempts to quit,” it said and recommended the need for new cessation and harm-reduction options to help smokers live longer and healthier lives.
“The data show what we have anecdotally known for decades — that many smokers have the desire to quit, but not the means to match it,” said Foundation President Derek Yach. Most smokers have tried to quit barring in South Africa and Lebanon, where less than half tried to quit.
Of the 13 countries the Foundation surveyed, the majority of smokers in each consider themselves addicted to cigarette, ranging from 60 per cent in India to 91 per cent in Japan. “Smokers feel powerless over their habit,” the Foundation said in its release.
The current number of annual deaths due to tobacco consumption in India is around 10 lakh. As per the Global Adult Tobacco Survey (GATS) Fact Sheet, it is believed that tobacco consumption will be killing over 1.5 million (15 lakh) people every year by 2020.
Anshuman Kumar, Director – Surgical Oncology in Delhi-based Dharamshila Narayana Superspeciality Hospital, said: “Both smoking and smokeless (chewing) tobacco forms are fatal. You bring it close to your lips but tobacco betrays you and attacks your lungs, chokes your heart and vessels.”
Heart diseases, asthma, other respiratory diseases and cancer have been found to have increased risk in people who consume tobacco — smoking, to be specific. However, evidences of vision loss and ophthalmic problems have been found higher in individuals who smoke.
Ikeda Lal, Opthalmologist at Sir Ganga Ram Hospital, Delhi, said: “Macular degeneration causes retina to lose its sharpness as it effects its central part which is responsible for clarity of vision. This makes it difficult for patients to drive and read properly and eventually lose their quality of life.”
Recent researches say that about one in four women in the metro cities is addicted to smoking.
Arvind Vaid, Gynaecologist and IVF Expert at national capital-based Indira IVF Hospital, said: “As many women as men are addicted to some form of tobacco products. Smoking reduces their chances of conceiving by at least by 60 per cent. Chemicals present in a cigarette also make certain cervical changes that even put them at an elevated risk of cervical cancer.”
Quitting the habit is made more difficult by the physical addiction to nicotine — the chemical stimulant in tobacco. Nicotine is a highly addictive drug that causes strong physical cravings and withdrawal symptoms like other drugs that stimulate the nervous system.
“Fortunately, medical treatments are now available that can help control the withdrawal symptoms and cravings. With the treatment, significant improvements in the quality of life, daytime symptoms and bronchial hyper-reactivity can be seen,” said Ajay Godse, MD Chest Physician at Bhaktivedanta Hospital, Thane in Maharashtra.
Minister of State for Health and Family Welfare Anupriya Patel will flag off a campaign on the occasion of World No Tobacco Day on Thursday.