If you smoke, quit! Smoke has harmful chemicals that cling to the clothes and hair of a smoker, as also to drapes, rugs, furniture, dust and other items which can be absorbed through the skin and mucous membranes by non smokers, especially by infants and young children. This is known as passive smoking or second hand smoke. According to a report published in the American College of cardiology the more secondhand smoke you are exposed to the greater your risk for heart disease- even if you have never been a smoker. In terms of indicator of exposure secondhand smoke at work place Jammu and Kashmir has highest prevalence (Ist rank) in India. Tobacco is the leading single cause of death. Six million deaths per year will increase to 8 million deaths per year in 2030. Tobacco use is the single largest cause of preventable deaths in the world today. Globally approximately six million people die each year due to diseases resulting from tobacco consumption and more than 80% of the deaths occur in developing countries. As per global adult tobacco survey (GATS) India, 2010 more than two thirds of the adults in India used tobacco in some form. As per global youth Tobacco survey 2009 14.6% of 13-15 years school going children were using tobacco and are exposed to secondhand smoke. The vulnerability of the youth to tobacco use and the growing use of tobacco among youngsters is a matter of concern in the state of Jammu and Kashmir besides drug addiction. There are four more harmful constituents added to tobacco that makes it more addictive than cocaine and heroin.
1. Nicotine is a drug that is as addictive as cocaine or heroin. It occurs naturally in tobacco plants. Within seconds of inhaling smoke from a cigarette it reaches your brain stimulating the nervous system, increasing heart rate, raising blood pressure and constricting small blood vessels under the skin.
2. Ammonia is a chemical used in cleaning products such as glass and toilet bowel cleaners. The Tobacco industry claims that ammonia adds flavor, but scientists have discovered that ammonia helps the body to absorb more nicotine thereby helping in the addiction process.
3. Propylene Glycol is a main ingredient in antifreeze and is added to prevent tobacco from drying out. Scientist have discovered that it aids the delivery of nicotine to brain.
4. Formaldehyde is added to tobacco to help prevent the tobacco from drying out quickly. This is one of the main ingredients used in embalming fluid used to preserve dead bodies. It is carcinogenic and can damage the lungs, skin and digestive system.
Breathing secondhand smoke can cause platelets to become stickier making your blood more likely to clot which may block an artery causing a heart attack. According to centre for disease prevention and control children whose parents smoke around them get more ear infections. Their lungs grow less than children who do not breathe secondhand smoke, and they get more bronchitis and pneumonia. Women who smoke or pregnant women who are exposed to secondhand smoke have an increased risk of having babies of low birth weight. Breathing secondhand smoke also called passive smoking is not very different from smoking. According to US Surgeon General estimates that living with a smoker increases the chance of getting lung cancer by 20% to 30%. Passive smoking may also increase risk of some other cancers like cervical cancer, kidney cancer and nasopharyngeal cancer and rectal cancer by at least 30%. Secondhand smoke can cause coughing, excessive phlegm, wheezing and shortness of breath.
Smoking is gateway to drug addiction. Moreover individuals who use tobacco from a young age are more likely to suffer from serious diseases earlier than others and die prematurely. The vulnerability of youth to tobacco use and the growing use of tobacco among young is matter of great concern in our state. Tobacco is the most common cause of lung cancer. Our state of Jammu and Kashmir is witnessing an increase in the number of cases in cancer. Kashmir valley has highest number of lung cancer cases as compared to rest of India. Government of India has taken several steps to control the increasing tobacco use among the youth. The COTPA 2003 (cigarette and other tobacco products advertisement and regulation of trade and commerce, production and supply. COTPA 2003 Act is a comprehensive law aimed to address the menace of tobacco in the country. The two important provision of this law section 4 and section 6 bans smoking in public places. Government of Jammu and Kashmir implemented the tobacco control laws in the state with Drugs and Food control organization as a nodal Department for the enforcement of the Act, with controller Drugs and Food control org. as member secretary of the state level monitoring committee and commissioner/ secretary Health and Medical Education department as its chairman. Similarly Dist. Level monitoring committee with Dist Development Commissioner as its chairman and CMO as member secretary.
WHO’s MPOWER policy package can reverse the tobacco epidemic and prevent millions of tobacco related deaths.
This package consists of:
1. Monitor tobacco use and prevention policies.
2. Protect people from tobacco smoke.
3. Offer help to quit tobacco use.
4. Warn about dangers of tobacco.
5. Enforce ban on tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship.
6. Raise taxes on tobacco.
Ways to avoid Secondhand Smoke:-
• Keep your home and car smoke free. Do not let your family members and friends or visitors smoke inside your house or car. Ask smokers to step outside.
• If your child spends time in daycare don’t allow smoking. Ask caregivers never to smoke around your children.
• Avoid restaurant that allow smoking. While travelling or on vacation with your family stay in smoke free hotels.
Smoking withdrawal symptoms include:-craving, tension, anxiety, irritability and restlessness, numbness in arms and legs; coughing and hunger. Some symptoms are related specifically to nicotine withdrawal while others are the response of your body returning to a healthy state and recovering from your habitual abuse of toxic cigarette smoke.
You can stop a craving by focusing your attention on something else.
Muscle tension, anxiety, irritability and restlessness can be reduced by using a variety of relaxation techniques such as progressive muscle relaxation or autogenics.
You may feel tingling sensation or numbness in your arms and legs. These sensations usually indicate improved circulation taking place as a result of your body experiencing freedom from poison from tobacco smoke.
You may at times feel dizzy or lightheaded. These sensation usually mean that more oxygen is getting into your brain now that the carbon monoxide associated with smoking is no longer present.
Some people find themselves coughing more after quitting smoking than before. The reason for this is that the cilia that line the lungs are working to clean out all the tars and other debris in your lungs.
Increased hunger is a common withdrawal symptom. To avoid weight gain it is important to exercise regularly, drink lots of water and plenty of low fat foods available for snacks and meals. Quitting can be difficult but there are resources to help you. Consult doctor and counselor about the best option to help you quit. It is not only your health, but that also of your family’s that is at stake here. All the very best for successful and happy quitting.
(The author is a social worker and counselor in Psychiatric Diseases Hospital GMC Jammu. Views are her own, email@example.com)