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October 11, 2019 Friday 09:44:55 AM IST

Playing With Fire

Health Monitor

Tobacco smoking dramatically increases the risk of developing many diseases. Many studies have shown that the majority of cases of lung cancer, chronic obstructive lung diseases and ischemic heart disease are due to smoking. It has been observed that in the long run, one of the causative factors of an array of diseases confronted by individuals is attributed to smoking. Maternal smoking is an important cause of retardation of fetal growth. Moreover, there is an increasing evidence that passive smoking has adverse effects on heart and lung.

 According to statistics pertaining to United States, cigarette smoking alone leads to 4,80,000 deaths per year. As per WHO’s (World Health Organization) projection, if smoking doesn’t change by 2030, more than 8 million people will die from diseases related to tobacco.


10 major diseases caused by smoking

* Lung Cancer

* Chronic Obstructive Lung Disease

* Heart Disease

* Stroke

* Peripheral Vascular Disease

* Esophageal Cancer

* Oropharyngeal Cancer

* Gastro esophageal reflux disease

* Aortic Aneurysm

* Cataract

Apart from the diseases mentioned above, smoking leads to skin diseases,reproductive disorders, periodontal disease,Osteoporosis,etc….

Dependence on tobacco

  Smoking causes physical dependence on nicotine. Specific nicotine receptors, which have been identified in the brain, lead to tobacco dependence. Hence, whenever a smoker attempts to quit smoking, he experiences an unpleasant effect in his body. The following are two simple ways to assess whether a smoker is dependent on tobacco:

(1) Smokes more than 8-10 cigarettes

(2) Smokes the first cigarette within 30 minutes of waking up

Societal cost of smoking

    The burden of smoking-related disease on family and society is enormous. The following could be counted among them.

(a) Healthcare expenditure attributable to the treatment of smoking-related diseases in active and passive smokers.

(b) Loss of earnings, employee absence and reduced productivity from work.

(c) Monetary value of premature mortality and disability.

(d) Indirect cost such as fire damage related to smoking.


Smoking cessation


Strategies to help individuals to quit smoking have been evolved in many countries. Anti-smoking advice from doctor, anti-smoking support programmes such as nicotine replacement therapy, proactive telephone counselling, face-to-face behavioural support from specialist are a few among them.


Statutory warnings


 In order to reduce the burden of cigarette smoking, statutory warnings are given over cigarette packets. Warnings are also given where smoking scene is shown in films and serials.Besides, Government.of India is promoting short films in theatres to create awareness about the bad effects of smoking with pictures of cancers and sufferers of chronic obstructive lung disease. Banning of smoking in public places,offices and work places are ensured by many State governments. Central cabinet’s approval on the ban on e-cigarette is a good move in this direction.However, the power lobby and cigarette industry work very hard to maintain and expand their business. Better ‘NEVER SMOKE’ than quit smoke or overcome the peer pressure from peers or cigarette industry.

Dr. Sunny P Orathel

He is a specialist in General Medicine and Pulmonology. He is the Medical Superintendent and also the Consultant in the Preventive Health Checks at Rajagiri Hospital.

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