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World No Tobacco Day 2018

Every year, 31st May, is marked as World No Tobacco Day (WNTD) by WHO, lay emphasis on the risks associated with tobacco use. The Global Burden of Disease study published in the Lancet in 2015, states that India is among the top 10 countries together accounting for almost two-thirds of the world’s smokers (63.6%). India alone has 11.2% of the world’s total smokers.

As per a study by Global Adult Tobacco Survey (GATS) on 74,037 people aged 15 and above across India between August 2016 and February 2017 stated that the number of smokers in India has reduced by 81 lakh people (6% over 7 years) compared to their first survey in 2010. Even though constant government, advertisement and media efforts have resulted in decline of the use of tobacco, there is still a long way to go.

Majority of the smokers start out young. At such a tender age, one doesn’t think of health risk associated with it and generally smoke to fit in peer circle, family influences or to experiment. Some people start tobacco use because they believe that it helps them cope with stress, anxiety while others may do it because they feel smoking helps in weight loss.

The poisonous nicotine is the chief active ingredient in tobacco and is found in such items as cigarettes, chewing tobacco, and cigars. When a person smokes, a dose of nicotine reaches the brain. Initially, it improves mood and concentration, decreases anger and stress, relaxes muscles and reduces appetite. However, regular doses of nicotine lead to changes in the brain chemistry, which can cause withdrawal symptoms when there is a decrease in the supply of nicotine. Smoking briefly reduces these withdrawal symptoms and this therefore reinforces the habit. Prolonged usage of tobacco contributes to damaged blood vessels, disturbs cholesterol levels and BP, and increases the risk of coronary heart diseases and respiratory diseases.

Not only does tobacco usage cause physical damage to our body but it also affects our mental health in several ways. Research confirms that smoking is directly proportional to levels of stress- with long exposure to nicotine, stress levels are likely to increase rather than decrease. Other consequences include instability, diminished cognitive intelligence, loss of memory and panic attacks affecting mental well being at work and home. Sudden episodes of sadness and mood swings can also be included.

Suggestions:

– Since smoking affects physical and mental health in a serious manner it is advisable not to start smoking altogether.
– If someone is experimenting they must try and quit as soon as possible as they will find it easier at this stage because nicotine has been rated as a very addictive substance.
– Those who are regular smokers should plan to taper off tobacco gradually.
– It’s best to avoid the company of smokers and situations that can act as triggers.
– Develop alternative ways to keep mouth busy through chewing other things like chewing gum, fennel, cardamom etc.
– Focusing on health can be a strong motivating factor to quit tobacco.
– Relaxation techniques like breathing exercises and mindfulness are of a great help.
– It’s beneficial to seek professional help if you are unable to quit smoking on your own.

So, on this World No Tobacco Day let’s try to abstain from all forms of tobacco for healthy physical and mental being and a better environment.

Image credit : Facilitas Malaysia