Tobacco use is linked to various health problems including cancer, heart disease, stroke, respiratory disorders and reproductive issues. The harmful effects of tobacco are due to the many toxic chemicals it contains including tar, carbon monoxide, and formaldehyde, among others. These chemicals can cause damage to the lungs, heart and other organs and can lead to the development of chronic diseases.
According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), tobacco use kills around 8 million people each year globally.
Smoking is a major risk factor for many types of cancer including lung, throat, oesophageal, bladder and pancreatic cancer, among others. The toxic chemicals in tobacco smoke can damage the DNA in cells, which can lead to the development of cancer over time.
Smoking is also a major risk factor for heart disease. The toxic chemicals in tobacco smoke can cause damage to the blood vessels, which can lead to the buildup of plaque and the narrowing of arteries. This can increase the risk of heart attacks, strokes and other cardiovascular problems.
Smoking can also cause various respiratory disorders such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and emphysema. The toxic chemicals in tobacco smoke can cause inflammation and damage to the lungs, which can lead to breathing difficulties and other respiratory problems.
When tobacco is smoked, it causes a temporary increase in heart rate and blood pressure. Over time, this can cause damage to the blood vessels, making them less flexible and more prone to blockages. This can lead to atherosclerosis, a condition in which plaque builds up in the arteries and restricts blood flow.
Atherosclerosis can cause heart attacks, strokes and other serious health problems.
Women who smoke are more likely to face difficulty in conceiving and are at an increased risk of pregnancy-related complications, such as preterm labour and low birth weight. Smoking during pregnancy can also increase the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).
Tobacco use has also been linked to mental health problems including anxiety and depression. Nicotine, the addictive substance found in tobacco, can alter brain chemistry and cause changes in mood and behaviour.
Children are particularly vulnerable to the dangers of secondhand smoke because their lungs are still developing. Exposure can lead to sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), ear infections, coughing fits and even missing school due to illness.
SENSITIVE APPROACH NEEDED
While acknowledging and recognizing the historical, cultural and economic importance that tobacco has held in societies throughout the world, understanding its complex role for a more nuanced significance is much needed. As we strive to address the health risks associated with tobacco, it is crucial to approach the issue with sensitivity, recognizing the multifaceted nature of tobacco’s impact on human civilization.
Tobacco is a lethal addiction with far-reaching consequences for individuals, communities, and societies at large. Its adverse health effects, economic burden, and influence on vulnerable populations necessitates robust tobacco control measures.
No doubt quitting any addiction is a challenging journey and to add more to this Nicotine, found in tobacco products, is highly addictive, making it difficult to break free from its grip.
Thus, quitting tobacco is one of the most profound acts of self-care and self-respect one can undertake. It is an investment in ones health, longevity, and overall quality of life. By choosing to quit, one is giving the gift of a healthier future, free from the shackles of addiction.
There are numerous resources available to quit tobacco. Seek guidance from healthcare professionals, join support groups, or explore cessation programs that can provide the necessary tools and strategies to overcome nicotine addiction. The road may have bumps along the way, but perseverance and determination will see one through. Think about the positive changes that a tobacco-free life can bring. Imagine breathing in fresh air without a lingering cloud of smoke, feeling more energetic, and enjoying the taste of food. Picture yourself as a role model for your loved ones, inspiring them with your courage and determination.
(Dr. Naresh Purohit is (Epidemiologist And Advisor – National Cancer Control Programme. The views and opinion expressed in this article are those of the author.)