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Tobacco: The Leading Cause of Preventable Death


Tobacco: The Leading Cause of Preventable Death

To elucidate the general public about the potential threats associated with tobacco use and dissuade them from using the same, ‘’World No Tobacco Day’’ is observed on the 31st of May every year. The purpose is to prevent the development of consequent health hazards from spreading among individuals and the society at large. The leading cause of preventable death includes smoking tobacco in the form of cigarettes, pipes, hookahs, bidis, etc. Besides being detrimental to the lungs, such practices are also ascribed to large-scale ill-health globally. According to WHO, about 20% of the entire population consists of smokers worldwide. Every 6 seconds, one person is believed to die from a tobacco-related illness.

Why Do People Smoke?

The nicotine present in tobacco, when burnt and inhaled by the smoker gets absorbed into the body. Giving a sudden buzz or kick, it leads to brain stimulation and ultimately addiction. Smoke also contains about 5000 odd toxic chemicals that can have adverse effects on the body when deposited, such as cancers of the mouth, lung, stomach, tongue, throat, bladder and pancreas, etc. Amongst the various respiratory diseases that can result include asthma, COPD, pneumonia, and pulmonary fibrosis. Vascular diseases such as strokes, heart attacks, hypertension, and gangrene are also common among extreme smokers. Bone weakness, skin wrinkling, gastric ulcers, muscle pain, dental diseases, psychotic problems, impotency in males and miscarriages in pregnant women are some other problems associated with smoking.

Second-Hand Smoke

With indirect inhalation i.e. from smoke in public spaces and smoke in homes by family members or others, the risk of being negatively affected remains the same. Therefore, a smoker is not only harming his own body but also causing significant harm to others around him. Studies reveal that women married to smokers have a 25% increased risk of developing harmful effects associated with smoking as against those married to non-smokers. Even kids of smoking parents have a high risk of developing respiratory infections such as pneumonia, asthma and lung cancers, etc. Talking of pregnant women exposed to smoke, they have a high risk of miscarriages and often deliver babies with congenital anomalies and low birth weights.

How to Quit

Although you might face restlessness and crave smoke for weeks, a strong will is all that is required to quit smoking. You ought to introspect on your future health and the risk you are posing to family, friends, and society in general. If you lack the determination to do so, seeking help from a doctor can help. Besides proper counseling, doctor would also give medicines to prevent the craving for smoking.

Reflecting on the benefits that are felt almost instantly after quitting smoking, Dr. T.L.N Swamy, Consultant HOD of Pulmonology, Care Hospitals believes that one can appreciate the benefits of stopping smoking almost instantly. The BP is stabilized 20 minutes post stopping cigarettes smoking, the heart rate becomes normal, oxygen levels improve within 24 hours, taste and smell gets better within 48 hours, cough and chest congestion improves within a month, the risk of developing heart diseases reduces to half in a year, stroke risk disappears within 5 years, cancer risk is diminished by half in 10 years and the risk of death due to smoking-related diseases disappears in 15 years. Given the risks associated, it’s never too late to quit smoking.