TO­BACCO: A threat to life & de­vel­op­ment

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As the world is get­ting ready to ob­serve the World No To­bacco Day on May 31, the Min­istry of Health and Fam­ily Wel­fare (MOHFW) un­der the lead­er­ship of Union Health Min­is­ter JP Nadda has also chalked out a com­pre­hen­sive plan to prop­a­gate the mes­sage among cit­i­zens of the coun­try that to­bacco is very much in­ju­ri­ous to health and preven­tion is the only rem­edy. The MOHFW in part­ner­ship with World Health Or­gan­i­sa­tion (WHO) and In­ter­na­tional Telecom­mu­ni­ca­tions Union has started an ini­tia­tive mces­sa­tion (to­bacco) util­is­ing mo­bile tech­nol­ogy for to­bacco ces­sa­tion. The in­tent be­hind the pro­gramme is to reach out to to­bacco users of all cat­e­gories who want to quit to­bacco use and sup­port them to­wards suc­cess­ful quit­ting through con­stant text mes­sag­ing on mo­bile phones. This year’s theme of the Wold No To­bacco Day is To­bacco – a threat to de­vel­op­ment, which is re­lated to the de­vel­op­ment in­dex of the coun­try. The day to mark World No To­bacco Day is ob­served to make world aware about the health risks as­so­ci­ated with to­bacco use and ad­vo­cat­ing for ef­fec­tive con­trol mea­sures to re­duce to­bacco con­sump­tion as con­sum­ing to­bacco prod­ucts is tak­ing lives of nearly six mil­lion peo­ple world­wide ev­ery year and if the trend con­tin­ues the num­ber of deaths due to to­bacco is ex­pected to rise to 1 bil­lion in the 21st cen­tury. The theme has a clear mes­sage to dis­sem­i­nate --- when life is un­der threat, the de­vel­op­ment would suf­fer a lot. Ac­cord­ing to WHO re­ports, to­bacco is the lead­ing pre­ventable cause of pre­ma­ture death and dis­ease world­wide, caus­ing 6 mil­lion deaths ev­ery year. To­bacco use is a ma­jor risk fac­tor for num­ber of chronic dis­eases like can­cer, car­dio­vas­cu­lar dis­eases (CVDS), chronic lung dis­eases and stroke. Ill ef­fects of to­bacco use can oc­cur to any per­son, re­gard­less of gen­der, age, race, and cul­tural or ed­u­ca­tional back­ground. It brings suf­fer­ing, dis­ease, and death, im­pov­er­ish­ing fam­i­lies and national economies. To­bacco prod­ucts are made en­tirely or partly of leaf to­bacco as raw ma­te­rial and to­bacco is mainly used in two main forms of use are chew­ing and smok­ing. To­bacco prod­ucts are ei­ther used as smoke­less to­bacco like khaini, zarda, gutkha as smok­ing. Apart from cig­a­rettes, peo­ple from In­dia smoke to­bacco us­ing bidis, hookahs and chillums among sev­eral other forms of smok­ing. More than 4,000 dif­fer­ent types of chem­i­cals

have been found in to­bacco and to­bacco smoke. Over 60 of these chem­i­cals have been clas­si­fied as car­cino­gens (can­cer caus­ing agents) by In­ter­na­tional Agency on Re­search in Can­cer. All to­bacco prod­ucts con­tain the highly ad­dic­tive psy­choac­tive in­gre­di­ent, nico­tine.


To­bacco use af­fects al­most ev­ery ma­jor or­gan and sys­tem in the body. To­bacco use in any form can cause can­cers in dif­fer­ent or­gans/sites in the body in­clud­ing the mouth, throat, lar­ynx (voice box), lungs, esoph­a­gus, breast, brain, gall blad­der, and kid­ney. Nearly 45 per cent of all can­cers among males and 17 per cent among fe­males in In­dia and more than 80 per cent oral can­cers are di­rectly re­lated to to­bacco use. Most of the to­bacco users don’t know that to­bacco use nar­rows their ar­ter­ies caus­ing them to be­come clogged and can lead to heart at­tack, stroke, pe­riph­eral vas­cu­lar dis­ease, gan­grene of the feet and im­po­tence. In women users, in­fer­til­ity and dif­fer­ent prob­lems dur­ing preg­nancy such as ec­topic preg­nancy, low birth weight baby, con­gen­i­tal anom­alies, pre­ma­ture birth are re­lated to to­bacco use. Pas­sive smok­ing or sec­ond hand smoke (breath­ing in some­one else’s cig­a­rette smoke) even if per­son is non smoker also in­creases the risk of res­pi­ra­tory prob­lems, lung can­cer, coro­nary heart dis­ease (heart at­tack, angina, heart fail­ure), stroke. Breath­ing in sec­ond-hand smoke is par­tic­u­larly harm­ful to chil­dren and preg­nant women. Chil­dren ex­posed to sec­ond-hand smoke are at in­creased risk of sud­den death syn­drome and var­i­ous other res­pi­ra­tory prob­lems. Chil­dren who grow up with a par­ent or fam­ily mem­ber who smokes are three times more likely to start smok­ing them­selves Smoke may still be present in large amount even af­ter the per­son has stopped the smok­ing es­pe­cially in small en­closed space such as in cars, is also harm­ful. To­bacco smok­ers are at greater risk of de­vel­op­ing can­cers than non-smok­ers To­bacco Con­trol Pro­gramme in In­dia It is not only gov­ern­ments who can step up to­bacco con­trol ef­forts, peo­ple can con­trib­ute on an in­di­vid­ual level to mak­ing a sus­tain­able, to­bacco-free world. Peo­ple can com­mit to never take up to­bacco prod­ucts. Those who do use to­bacco can quit the habit, or seek help in do­ing so, which will, in turn, pro­tect their health as well as peo­ple ex­posed to sec­ond-hand smoke, in­clud­ing chil­dren, other fam­ily mem­bers, and friends. Money not spent on to­bacco can be, in turn, used for other es­sen­tial uses, in­clud­ing the pur­chase of healthy food, health­care, and ed­u­ca­tion. In or­der to bring about greater aware­ness about the harm­ful ef­fects of to­bacco use; im­ple­men­ta­tion of ef­fec­tive to­bacco con­trol mea­sures and to­bacco con­trol laws, Min­istry of Health and Fam­ily Wel­fare (MOHFW) has launched “National To­bacco Con­trol Pro­gramme” (NTCP) in 2007-08 dur­ing the 11th five-year plan. The NTCP is im­ple­mented with health­care de­liv­ery sys­tem at state and district level un­der National Health Mis­sion and in a phase-wise man­ner, it will cover the en­tire coun­try. Reg­is­ter to “mces­sa­tion (to­bacco) pro­gramme visit­bacco or give a missed call on 011-22901701.

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