India celebrates 74th Independence Day on 15thAugust 2020 as mark of freedom from British rule. Best wishes to everyone and be alert to save this freedom. Now it’s right time that we should aim for freedom from a product to which globally very large number of people have become Slaves and this product is not only killing human but also the animals and the whole environment. Tobacco is killing the whole Planet.
Smoking and chewing tobacco / PanMasala is a form of Slavery. In odd circumstances for the survival to save self or children, people work like slaves to make tobacco products especially the bidis. The products made by so called slaves ultimately make the users also slaves of these products and people become addicted to a stage where they fail to stop using tobacco even when they are strongly motivated to stop. The possible hurdles anticipated by users are the unpleasantness of withdrawal, fear of weight gain, the potential futility of trying and eventual relapses and lack of information about tobacco cessation centres.
Tobacco by damaging multiple organs not only reduces local defenses of lungs but reduces general Immunity making people more prone to Corona infection by many folds. Use of tobacco by fingers, sharing bidi / Cigarette/ Hookah and spitting spread Corona and other infection from one person to another very easily. Even the Pan Masala which doesn’t contain Tobacco or nicotine does contain Supari (Areca nut) which is now proved to be carcinogenic & genotoxic and affects oral cavity, kidney, liver and reproductive organs. E- cigarette damages lungs, heart, adolescent brain and developing fetus apart from its carcinogenic potential. Globally 10 people die every minute from tobaccos and 2 out of 10 are from India only. Second hand smoking is adding the morbidity and mortality further. 30% adult in India are exposed to second hand smoking in indoor work places. 22% teenagers (13-15 yrs age) are exposed to second hand smoking at home.
Tobacco addiction is probably the most common and problematic form of addiction worldwide
Tobacco users (both smokers & smokeless tobacco ) lose control over their motivation and fail to control their desire to use tobacco . Even today 26.7 crore people use tobacco in India. Even though Govt is trying to provide best possible services but no infrastructure of Govt or NGO can tackle this huge load so community participation is required to assist them to Quit these habits. Tobacco users can visit nearest Govt health centre, De-addiction centre, Tobacco cessation Centre. They can join Govt. M- Cessation Prog by giving a miss call from their mobile at 011 – 22901701 or Govt National toll free Quitline number 1800-11-2356 to get assistance to quit these habits. One may adopt one tobacco / Pan masala user from their surroundings and help him/her to quit by joining 1 for 1 Campaign by clicking link http://chn.ge/2lUhRua
It is never too late. Take a firm decision today itself and start your efforts to stop these habits. Remember you will start getting positive effects on your multiple organs from Day one even if you have been using these products for years together.
We as a society need to provide them a helping hand so that they win over these habits and become free from the slavery of tobacco, pan masala and e cigarette. Freedom from tobacco will not only make one community or country but whole Planet as safe & healthy place to live.
*writer is Addl Director Health with Govt of Delhi and is twice WHO Awardee for his extraordinary contribution to Tobacco control in South east Asia region. Views expressed are personal
By Dr S K Arora