It's time to kick the butt

May 30, 2014, 10:32 IST | The Guide team

As the world celebrates No Tobacco Day on May 31, the guide rakes up issues related to tobacco consumption

Tobacco addiction is a burning issue in India today. It has been reported that 75% of the male population in India consumes tobacco frequently in some form or the other, and experts reveal that the situation is no different in the city.

“In Pune, there has been an increase in the number of youngsters who smoke. The number has doubled in the last 10 years,” says Dr Nitin Abhyankar, Senior Pulmonologist, Jehangir Hospital, which will hold a cycle rally to observe the World No Tobacco Day.

Dr Rahul Patil, Interventional Cardiologist, Ruby Hall Clinic, echoes a similar stance and informs, “Five years back, heart attack cases amongst youngsters were unheard of. But increasingly, we have young people coming to us with cardiac problems. It’s a serious issue and smoking is a major factor.”

He adds that health problems that one would have normally seen in people in their 60s — like the ones related to the heart or lungs — are now witnessed in youngsters in the age group of 30 to 35 years. “It’s an unhealthy trend, to say the least,” he warns.

According to Dr Patil, in the last few years, there has been a 30-40% rise in heart-related ailments amongst those below the age of 40. Among his patients, 30-40% are chain smokers. “A number of young patients are those in high stress and sedentary lifestyle jobs, such as the ones in BPOs and the IT sector,” he shares.

Risks attached to smoking
In Asia, India and China are major markets for tobacco companies, reveals  Dr Abhyankar. He adds that cancer is the highest risk of tobacco consumption followed by other disorders like heart attacks or a stroke, often causing premature deaths. “Every cigarette reduces life by seven minutes or so. Daily consumers have a 25 time higher risk to contract most diseases,” he details. Studies show that there are more than 4,000 identified poisonous substances and 43 known cancer-producing agents that range from tar, arsenic and benzene, in cigarettes. But, the most deadly part is nicotine, which addicts the human brain and turns him or her into a hapless slave to the habit.

The question of quitting
After a certain stage, quitting becomes difficult and requires quality measures such as medicines like Bupropion or Varenicline. Varenicline is an effective medication with success rates close to 50%. Smokers often boast that they can quit anytime but on the basis of sheer willpower the success rates are at a dismal 1%. Treatments like motivational sessions push the success rate to 10%. There are also nicotine replacement therapies like nicotine chewing gums, nicotine patches, etc, which are quite useful in reducing the damage.

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Facts and figures

According to a study released by Indus Health Plus, almost 20% males and 14% females in Pune who smoke are at a higher risk of cardiac arrest. 5% males and 3% females are suffering from head and neck cancer. 27% of the population is at a threat of oral cancer. 15–20% men and 8–10% women are at a higher risk of decreasing their lung age by 10 years because of smoke and smokeless tobacco consumption.

Awareness even
Muktangan Rehabilitation Center will be holding events to create awareness about the problems caused by smoking. Indrajeet Deshmukh one of the counsellors in the NGO says, “We have seen a rise in smoking in the city. We wish to break this trend by informing people about the drawbacks of this habit.”

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