Understanding Tobacco Consumption and the Associated Health Risks

Every year tobacco kills more than 8 million people globally. More than 7 million of the total tobacco-related deaths are caused by direct consumption of tobacco and others are related to second-hand smoke.

The numbers go on to show that tobacco products not only affect the consumer but those around him as well. It affects the health and wellbeing of all the citizens. In order to curb the menace caused by tobacco, World Health Organization observes "World No Tobacco Day" on 31st May, to inform the public on the dangers of using tobacco products.

According to a report in India Today, smoking kills over 1 million people in India every year. It is the 4th leading cause of non-communicable deaths in the country. Let's take a look at the key statistics that highlight the problem of tobacco consumption in India:
1. 25.9% of adults in India use smokeless tobacco products.
2. The most popular tobacco product is khaini.
3. 34.6% of Indian adults are smokers.
4. Bidis are popular among the illiterate population.
5. The rich population prefers cigars that contain high levels of tobacco-specific nitrosamines (TSNAs).

People consider smokeless tobacco products to be a less fatal addiction but they are equally dangerous. Oral smokeless tobacco products are available in different types such as gutka, khaini, zarda, tambaku pan, etc. They are harmful and cause several types of diseases.

The Risk of Consuming Tobacco Products

According to the American Center for Disease Control and Prevention, tobacco smoke has at least 70 carcinogens including hydrogen cyanide, formaldehyde, lead, arsenic, benzene, ammonia, etc. Every time you consume a tobacco product, it enters your bloodstream. It has the potential to damage your DNA and thus, result in cancer. Consuming smokeless tobacco products has a similar effect as well.

Cigarettes and other smokeless tobacco products cause harm to nearly every organ in the body. It not only causes cancers in several parts of the body but it is also known to cause heart disease, stroke, diabetes, Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), tuberculosis, pneumonia, fertility issues and several other problems.

Tobacco is a risk factor for many respiratory diseases. When one thinks of the negative effects of tobacco, the cancer of mouth, throat, and larynx as well as lung cancer come to mind. Additionally, it is one of the most common reasons for GI cancer.

GI cancer or gastrointestinal cancer is a term used for a group of cancers that affect the digestive tract and organs connected to it. It includes cancers of the esophagus, pancreas, stomach, colon, rectum, anus, liver, biliary system, and small intestine. Consuming tobacco on a regular basis can increase the risk of GI cancer and even cause fatalities.

Several studies have reported that the risk for GI cancer increases significantly among smokers as compared to non-smokers.

How to reduce the Consumption of Tobacco in the Society?

Consumption of tobacco products should be controlled for the betterment of the society. It should be a top priority because it has an enormous financial and medical burden on the society.

1. The marketing strategies of tobacco products are targeted towards the younger Indian population which is resulting in an early initiation age and rampant addiction. We need to focus on creating awareness programs for the younger population.

2. Setting up de-addiction center and rehab clinics, and making them more accessible is another way to combat the problem of tobacco.

3. We need to evaluate our existing strategies and conduct community-based studies to collect data from each and every member of the household. It will help in finding the gaps between the implementation of strategies.

4. Even though cigarette prices are higher in India, the cost of bidis, gutka, tambaku, and other tobacco products is very low. By increasing the unit price of tobacco products, you can discourage people from using the substance.

5. Stricter laws should be implemented to create smoke-free public zones so that involuntary exposure to second-hand smoke is substantially reduced.

All the above-mentioned public health strategies can help in a reduction in the consumption of tobacco products. For an individual struggling with addiction to tobacco, it is best to get in touch with a medical professional to tackle the issue. Addiction to tobacco consumption can increase your risk of GI cancer, so it is essential to stop its consumption and adopt a healthy lifestyle.

Regular use of tobacco products can increase your risk of several types of cancers including GI cancer. If you are seeing any symptoms of GI cancer or you are facing digestive distress of any kind, visit your trusted GI surgeon of Surat.

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