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Consuming tobacco is knocking at the hell’s door. Here’s why!

Using tobacco is the second major cause of death in the world and tobacco kills almost fifty percent of its users, informs Dr Deepak Prasher, Medical Officer, Healthians

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It is estimated that every eight seconds a person dies in the world due to tobacco usage. This one statistic is enough to tell you how harmful tobacco is. Tobacco consumption, through both smoke and smokeless means can cause a whole host of problems in your body. Using tobacco is the second major cause of death in the world and tobacco kills almost fifty percent of its users.

Cardiovascular diseases and cancers cause 60 per cent of tobacco-related deaths in the country. In India, the problem of tobacco usage is not just limited to smoking, but also includes chewing of tobacco. India is the largest market for smokeless tobacco in the world and any preventive measures taken to dissuade tobacco usage have not been able to penetrate this market comprehensively.

Tobacco smoke contains almost 7000 chemicals, of which at least 250 are known to be harmful and 69 are known to cause cancer.

Some of the most common ways in which tobacco is smoked are bidis, cigarettes, hookahs, pipes, chillum, cheroots etc. Smokeless form of tobacco includes Paan (betel leaf) with tobacco, pan masala with tobacco, areca nuts and slaked lime preparation, mawa, khaini, chewing tobacco, snus, gutkha etc.

Some of the most common health issues associated with tobacco use are:

  • Risk of cancer: Smoking can increase the chances of cancer development dramatically. People who smoke tobacco are 23 times more at risk of cancer, including lung cancer, mouth and throat cancer, cervical cancer, bladder cancer, colorectal cancer and liver cancer.
  • Cardiovascular diseases: People who consume tobacco are at higher risk of developing cardiovascular diseases. Tobacco usage, especially smoking causes extraordinary amount of “wear and tear” to your heart, thereby leading to heart attacks, high blood pressure, blood clots, strokes, hemorrhages, aneurysms and other cardiovascular diseases. Of all the deaths in India, 28.1 per cent are due to cardiovascular diseases and tobacco contributes to 16 per cent of these deaths.
  • Tobacco use can affect potency and fertility: Smoking can damage a man’s sperm leading to impotency. Even women who consume tobacco can lose their fertility. Moreover, expecting mothers who consume tobacco put their kids at an increased risk of SIDS.
  • Tuberculosis: This is one of the most common diseases caused by tobacco. Moreover, if you have undergone TB treatment once, then smoking tobacco again, can double the risk of this disease, which can sometimes lead to death.
  • Risk of vision and hearing loss: The consumption of tobacco can also affect the lens of your eyes and can lead to vision loss in severe cases. Even more, tobacco consumers are at a 70 per cent higher risk of hearing loss.
  • Increased risk of Type-2 diabetes: All around the world, type-2 diabetes cases are more common as compared to its other types. People who consume tobacco products are at higher risk of developing type-2 diabetes. Moreover, people who are already suffering from diabetes and have not quit tobacco will have trouble in controlling their disease and in severe cases, it can lead the patient to chronic heart diseases.
  • Raised risk of stroke: Smoking can make your blood thicker and will make it harder to flow due to which, the chances of clot formation will become higher and it will lead to the increased risk of stroke. Reduced blood flow to the skin due to tobacco consumption can also cause wounds to heal at a slower rate as compared to the ones who are not using tobacco or any of its products.
  • Effects on pregnant women and children – Tobacco has a profound effect on pregnant women, the affects include underweight baby, ectopic pregnancy, spontaneous miscarriage, vaginal bleeding, placental abruption and still birth, among others. Children can develop a host of illnesses including acute respiratory illness, middle ear diseases, chronic respiratory symptoms etc.

While quitting tobacco consumption may be challenging for a regular user, here are some tips which can help anyone to get a tobacco-free life with ease:

  • Keep all your tobacco and tobacco products like cigarettes and cigars, away from your reach or even better, throw them all.
  • Figure out an alternative to tobacco to cope with the need of it. Use nicotine chewing gum or some other distraction.
  • Stay away from smokers and tobacco users.
  • Become a part of stop-smoking groups and get motivation from those who have quit tobacco.
  • Take a counseling session.
  • Find a hobby to keep your mind busy.
  • Get a guide book to know the benefits of quitting tobacco to stay focused on the purpose of a better life.
  • Get encouragement and support from your loved ones to stay motivated.

While quitting tobacco would be the ideal solution to deal with the host of risks to your health, having a preventive attitude is also necessary during this journey. If quitting smoking is taking you time, then it is essential that you take care of your health even more than a non-smoker. Getting tested regularly for the risks highlighted above can help you stay on top of your health. Some of the most essential tests for smokers should be complete blood count, vitamin D deficiency, diabetes tests, lipid profile, cancer markers, ECG and oral examinations.

Innumerable reasons exist to quit smoking and it can even be clearly documented how people who have quit smoking have improved their lives. However, the biggest factor still is an individual’s own motivation, his or her own willingness to choose their life.

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