World No Tobacco Day observed on 31 May
World No Tobacco Day is observed on 31 May every year to highlight the health and additional risks associated with tobacco use, and to advocate for effective policies to reduce tobacco consumption. The theme for this year is ‘Tobacco – a Threat to Development’.
There are more than 7 million deaths from tobacco use every year, a figure that is predicted to grow to more than 8 million a year by 2030 without intensified action. Tobacco use is a threat to any person, regardless of gender, age, race, cultural or educational background. It brings suffering, disease and death, impoverishing families and national economies too. In India the estimated numbers of tobacco users are 274.9 million, where 163.7 million are only smokeless tobacco users. Each year, about 10 lakh Indians die from tobacco-related diseases.
Tobacco kills every third person prematurely through cancer, heart disease, lung diseases, etc., putting a huge burden on our economic and healthcare system. Tobacco is one of the primary causes of cancer, which is associated with cancer of respiratory tract, lung, upper gastrointestinal tract, kidney, liver, pancreas, urinary bladder, cervix, etc. Intake of tobacco causes respiratory diseases like asthmatic attack and tuberculosis. Smokers are at a great risk of heart attack. It can also aggravate existing medical conditions like diabetes, erectile dysfunction and rheumatoid arthritis.
Yet, where there is a will, there is a way. The Framework Convention on Tobacco Control – to which India is a party – obligates 180 countries to introduce laws aimed at reducing tobacco use. These measures include smoke-free public places, increased tobacco taxes, large pictorial warning labels on tobacco products, and restrictions on tobacco advertising. Increasing tobacco taxes increases the price of tobacco products, encourages cessation among existing users, reduces the quantity of tobacco consumed by users, and prevents initiation – especially among the youth and the poor.
So, while there are laws and policies to control tobacco use, strict implementation of such laws is required. Education and awareness must start from the school level. People should be informed adequately about the harmful effects of tobacco usage.