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India home to a high proportion of young smokers

Smoking: This increases the risk of cervical and other cancers. Nicotine and tobacco weaken the immune system, results in oxidative stress all of which alters the balance of the oncogenes in the body and leads to the growth of cancer.

Use of tobacco is one of the leading causes of cardiovascular diseases, stroke, pulmonary diseases and certain types of cancers.

Written by Editorial Team |Published : March 19, 2018 11:36 AM IST

Data from the Global Tobacco Atlas released recently indicates that despite lowering tobacco use in recent years, India is home to an estimated 625,000 child smokers in the age group of 10 to 14 years. More than 932,600 Indian lives are lost to tobacco-related diseases every year. Further, the economic burden of smoking is very high in India and this includes both direct cost of healthcare and the indirect cost of lost productivity.

Use of tobacco is one of the leading causes of cardiovascular diseases, stroke, pulmonary diseases and certain types of cancers.

Speaking about this, Padma Shri Awardee Dr K K Aggarwal, President Heart Care Foundation of India (HCFI) and Immediate Past National President Indian Medical Association (IMA), said, "One of the major causes for continued tobacco consumption in India is the fact that it is a part of the country's social culture. Kids start smoking even before they're old enough to think about the risks; after starting they rapidly become addicted to smoking and then regret it later. Smoking aggravates bone loss and is a risk factor for hip fracture. It is responsible for more than 10% of heart blockage diseases all over the world and 33% of all cardiac deaths. Any form of tobacco like snuff, chewing, and dipping varieties which are not burnt can be termed as smokeless, another variant that is harmful to health. Smokeless forms also contain sugar and prolonged usage can adversely affect control of blood sugar levels in patients with diabetes."

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It is a common practice in India to use SLT mixed with areca nut. Areca nut itself is classified as a class one carcinogenic and also causes other adverse health effects.

Adding further, Dr Aggarwal, who is also the Vice President of CMAAO, said, "Quite often, we may rebuke a patient for failing in his efforts to quit smoking and say, 'If you do not quit, you may die'. A statement worded as this may inadvertently sound discouraging to the patient. While it is important that people know the dangers of smoking or using tobacco products, a positive communication approach may have a more fruitful impact than a critical approach."

HCFI tips to quit this habit.

Try short-acting nicotine replacement therapies such as nicotine gum, lozenges, nasal sprays, or inhalers. These can help overcome intense cravings.

Identify the trigger situation, which makes you smoke. Have a plan in place to avoid these or get through them alternatively.

Chew on sugarless gum or hard candy, or munch raw carrots, celery, nuts or sunflower seeds instead of tobacco.

Get physically active. Short bursts of physical activity such as running up and down the stairs a few times can make a tobacco craving go away.

One approach to smoking cessation is the five-step algorithm called the "5 A's" (Ask, Advise, Assess, Assist, Arrange)

All smokers should be advised to quit smoking.

Even brief advice to quit has been shown to increase quit rates.

Smokers be managed with a combination of behavioral support and pharmacologic therapy

Combination therapy is superior to either behavioral intervention or pharmacologic therapy alone.

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