By Dr. Sanketh Kontne
Tobacco is a harmful product that is a major risk factor for many diseases especially cancer. Tobacco and also the smoke from burning it contains numerous toxic chemicals which affect every organ of our body. Nicotine is the main chemical in tobacco which makes it addictive to these products. Every year, more than 932600 people in India are killed by tobacco-caused diseases. Smoking causes about 20% of all cancers. It affects not only the health of the user but also family and resources too.
Every cigarette you smoke reduces your expected life span by approximately 11minutes.
Myths & facts of smoking
1. Myth: I Smoke once in a while and only while drinking, it’s not a big deal!
Fact: Smoking doesn’t cause health problems only to heavy or long term smokers. Every cigarette you smoke causes damage and there is no safe level of exposure. Combining alcohol along with tobacco further increases the risk of developing cancer and other diseases.
2. Myth: Filters cigarettes are safer.
Fact: No. Filters only make the smoke particles smaller. It makes absorption of nicotine easier and makes it more addictive. You can get the same amount of tar from a light cigarette as much as from a regular one.
3. Myth: Second-hand smoking is not harmful.
Fact: There is a 20-30% risk of developing cancers even in non-smokers. Tobacco smoke has deadly chemicals as much as tobacco and is harmful. Children are easily affected by various diseases and the only way to protect them is to provide a 100% smoke-free environment.
4. Myth: I smoke to reduce my stress!
Fact: Studies have shown smoking is anxiogenic which means it increases the risk of anxiety disorders. It is not a stress reliever. There are many other effective, healthier and less expensive ways of coping with stress.
5. Myth: I don’t smoke cigarettes. Vaping is cool and harmless!
Fact: E-cigarettes cause as much damage as smoking an unfiltered cigarette. They also contain many ultrafine particles and flavouring agents which can cause direct damage to the lungs.
6. Myth: Lung cancer is only cancer related to smoking.
Fact: Tobacco use increases the risk of mouth, lip, nose and sinus cancers; voice box and throat cancers; oesophageal, stomach, pancreatic, kidney, and colon cancers; uterine, cervical, ovarian, rectal and bladder cancers and also blood cancer.
7. Myth: I Exercise daily and take antioxidants; so it’s OK for me to smoke.
Fact: Eating healthy and getting regular exercise is great for your health, but they won’t undo the risks of smoking.
8. Myth: It’s too late for me to quit! The damage has been done.
Fact: It’s never too late to quit. The sooner you quit, the sooner your body starts to heal. Within 20 minutes of quitting, your body starts to heal. In 10years, Your risk of developing lung cancer is cut in half.
How to quit smoking?
1. Cold turkey method: Trying to quit without anyone’s help
2. Behavioural therapy: Taking the help of a counsellor to find ways to stop smoking.
3. Nicotine Replacement therapy: There are patches, gums inhalers, lozenges and sprays which provide nicotine without the use of tobacco. Combining this with behavioural therapy has the best results. Ending the addiction to nicotine should be the goal.
4. Medication: There are several drugs prescribed by a physician to help with your cravings and withdrawal symptoms. Consult a physician if other methods are not helping.
Benefits of quitting tobacco use:
1. Improves health and increases your life expectancy.
2. Reduces risk of developing 12 types of cancer.
3. Reduces the risk of developing lung and heart-related disease.
4. Reduces risk of developing reproductive health issues.