By Shri Ram Shaw
New Delhi, May 31 (HS): The focus of the World No Tobacco Day (WNTD) this year is “tobacco and lung health”. Every year, the World Health Organisation (WHO) and global partners observe WNTD on May 31 and people are made aware about the ill-effects of tobacco and discourage them from using tobacco in any form.
As per WHO, this year the campaign is focused on the impact of tobacco has on lungs from cancer to chronic respiratory disease (COPD). People are being informed about lung cancer, the primary cause of which is tobacco smoking. Smoking tobacco is responsible for two-thirds of lung cancer deaths globally. Even exposure to second-hand smoke also increases the risk of lung cancer. Quitting smoking can reduce the risk of lung cancer; after 10 years of quitting smoking, risk of lung cancer falls to about half that of a smoker.
Apart from lung cancer, smoking tobacco also causes chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). In this disease, there is build up of pus filled mucus in lungs resulting in a painful cough and agonising breathing difficulties.
Similarly, young children who are exposed to SHS at home have high incidence of respiratory problems such as asthma, pneumonia and bronchitis, ear infection, repeat episodes of cough and colds and frequent lower respiratory infections.
The WHO states that globally, an estimated 1.65 lakh children die before the age of 5 due to lower respiratory infections caused by second hand smoke. Those who live on into adulthood continue to suffer and are at risk of developing COPD.
Dr Pankaj Chaturvedi, Deputy Director Tata Memorial Hospital and Voice of Tobacco Victims (VoTV) Founder, told Hindusthan Samachar that smoking or exposure to SHS by pregnant woman can reduce the lung growth and its function in foetus, can lead to miscarriage, premature birth of the baby, the new born can be of low birth weight and even sudden infant death syndrome. Tobacco, consumed in any form smoking or smokeless, is extremely dangerous. It has no use except death or disability.
Despite Government’s efforts to curb tuberculosis (TB) by 2025, it is very common in India. As per the Global TB report 2017, the estimated incidence of TB in India was approximately 28 lakh accounting for about a quarter of the world’s TB cases. The health experts say that TB damages the lungs and reduces the lung function and in such situation if a person smokes then it can further worsen the situation leading to death.
Experts say tobacco smoke is very dangerous form of indoor pollution, as it contains more than 7000 chemicals of which 69 are known to cause cancer. The tobacco smoke remain in air for up to five hours putting those exposed at risk of lung cancer, COPD and reduced lung infection.
Arvind Mathur, Trustee, Sambandh Health Foundation (SHF) said that according to the Global Adult Tobacco Survey 2017, in India 10.7% (99.5 million) of all adults currently smoke tobacco including 19% men and 2% women. With regards to exposure to second hand smoke in India 38.7% adults get exposed to second hand smoke (SHS) at home; 30.2% adults get exposed to SHS at workplace; 5.3% at government buildings/offices; 5.6% at health care facilities; 7.4% at restaurants and 13.3% at public transportation.
The chemicals in tobacco that cause lung cancer include arsenic (found in rat poison), benzene (a component of crude oil often used to make other chemicals), chromium, nickel, vinyl chloride (found in plastics and cigarette filters), polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, N-nitrosamines, aromatic amines, formaldehyde (found in embalming fluid), acetaldehyde and polonium -210 ( a radioactive heavy metal).
There are many factors that may increase or decrease the carcinogenicity of tobacco – different types of tobacco leaves, the presence or absence of filters and chemical additives and these factors play in getting cancer. It may not be the specific chemicals in the tobacco, but rather the mix of chemical present in cigarette.
Manipal Hospital, Dwarka, Cancer Surgeon Dr. Vedant Kabra said, “Global Adult Tobacco Survey (GATS) 2017 revealed 28.6% (266.8 million) of adults in India, aged 15 and above currently use tobacco in some form. Among the adults 24.9% (232.4 million) are daily tobacco users and 3.7% (34.4 million) are occasional users. Every tenth adult (10.7%; 99.5 million) in India currently smokes tobacco. The prevalence of smoking among men was 19.0% and among women it was 2.0%.
The prevalence of smoking was 11.9 percent in rural areas and 8.3 percent in urban areas. One in eight (12.2%) daily tobacco user aged 20-34 had started to smoke before age 15 years, while more than one-third (35.8%) of all daily smokers have started smoking when they were younger than 18 years.”