Smoking is already a major health problem in India and one that will worsen unless we act. Smoking alone is estimated to cause nearly 10 lakh deaths a year in India.

About 1/3rd of Indian men now smoke; the number of women who smoke is lower but the health risks are just as dangerous for both. 70% of deaths from smoking occur during middle age when people are still in the most productive part of their lives and not in the old age. Pre-cancerous conditions such as mouth lesions are increasing among youth and women are especially hard hit. Smoking by pregnant women leads to low birth weight babies, still births and birth defects.

Smoking is more common among the poorest as per an Indian Survey in 2010. About 30% of poor, 25% of middle income group and only 15% of higher income group people are into smoking. Women who have a habit of smoking have especially high risks of dying from cancer.

The usage of cigarettes is not just costing lives but it is also imposing economic burdens on our country’s health care systems that force health facilities to spend a great share of their precious resources in treating largely preventable diseases. Cigarettes also cost individual families a lot as the cost of treatment for serious diseases like cancer or stroke can push families into poverty.

Quit rates in India are very low at 5%. Quitting by age 40 and preferably earlier, avoids nearly all the risks. After quitting, within 12 hours, carbon dioxide levels decrease and oxygen levels increase. Within 3 months, heart attack risk drops and lung functions improve. Within 1 year, risk of sudden heart attack is cut in half and within 5 years risk of cancer of the mouth, throat, oesophagus and bladder is halved. So as non-smokers, we must encourage those who smoke to not indulge in this dangerous habit and live a longer and happier life. One of the best methods to do so is by demonstrating to them how much money they would save if every time they wanted to buy a cigarette, they put that money in a jar instead. By the end of some months, they’ll be shocked to see the amount of money they could save. For your near and dear ones who smoke, every time they dodge a yearning to smoke, present them with a gift or something that makes them happy and see the magic! Smoking cessation is the single most important action smokers can take to improve their health and lengthen their lives.

 

– Deeya Tangri

 

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