Tobacco Exposed

Banday Abid Shafi

Tobacco smoking is the practice of smoking tobacco and inhaling tobacco smoke. A broader definition may include simply taking tobacco smoke into the mouth, and then releasing it, as is done by some with tobacco pipes and cigars. Smoking is a practice in which a substance is burned and the resulting smoke breathed in to be tasted and absorbed into the bloodstream. Tobacco use is the leading cause of preventable disease, disability, and death. Tobacco product use is started and established primarily during adolescence. Nearly 9 out of 10 cigarette smokers first try cigarette smoking by age 18. Flavorings in tobacco products can make them more appealing to youth. Recent increases in the use of e-cigarettes is driving increases in tobacco product use among youth. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is at the forefront to reduce deaths and prevent chronic diseases that result from tobacco use. The agency and its partners promote tobacco control interventions, including actions to prevent youth from starting to use tobacco, smoke-free environments, programs to help tobacco users quit, and steps to eliminate tobacco-related health disparities in different population groups. Smoking can cause fatal diseases such as pneumonia, emphysema and lung cancer. Smoking causes 84% of deaths from lung cancer and 83% of deaths from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Smoking causes cancer, heart disease, stroke, lung diseases, diabetes, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), which includes emphysema and chronic bronchitis. Smoking also increases risk for tuberculosis, certain eye diseases, and problems of the immune system, including rheumatoid arthritis. One in two smokers will die from a smoking-related disease. Every 15 cigarettes you smoke will cause a mutation in your body, mutations are how cancers start. Tobacco kills more than 8 million people globally every year. More than 7 million of these deaths are from direct tobacco use and around 1.2 million are due to non-smokers being exposed to second-hand smoke. Over 16 million people live with at least one disease caused by smoking, and 58 million nonsmoking Americans are exposed to secondhand smoke. Cigarette smoking harms nearly every organ of the body, causes many diseases, and reduces the health of smokers in general. Smoking can cause lung disease by damaging your airways and the small air sacs (alveoli) found in your lungs. Lung diseases caused by smoking include COPD, which includes emphysema and chronic bronchitis. Cigarette smoking causes most cases of lung cancer. If you have asthma, tobacco smoke can trigger an attack or make an attack worse. Smokers are 12 to 13 times more likely to die from COPD than nonsmokers. Smoking can make it harder for a woman to become pregnant. It can also affect her baby’s health before and after birth. Smoking increases risks for Preterm (early) delivery, Stillbirth (death of the baby before birth), Low birth weight, Sudden infant death syndrome (known as SIDS or crib death), Ectopic pregnancy, Oro-facial clefts in infants, Smoking can also affect men’s sperm, which can reduce fertility and also increase risks for birth defects and miscarriage. Smoking can affect bone health. Women past childbearing years who smoke have weaker bones than women who never smoked. They are also at greater risk for broken bones. Smoking affects the health of your teeth and gums and can cause tooth loss. Smoking can increase your risk for cataracts (clouding of the eye’s lens that makes it hard for you to see). It can also cause age-related macular degeneration (AMD). AMD is damage to a small spot near the center of the retina, the part of the eye needed for central vision. Smoking is a cause of type 2 diabetes mellitus and can make it harder to control. The risk of developing diabetes is 30–40% higher for active smokers than nonsmokers. Smoking causes general adverse effects on the body, including inflammation and decreased immune function .Smoking is a cause of rheumatoid arthritis.
Figures from J&K Related to Smoking: Jammu and Kashmir is fast emerging as the ‘smoking capital’ of the north,” The Economic Times reported in February 2015, citing sources at the Voluntary Health Association of India. In 2011 J&K has the highest number of smokers. Tobacco gives smoking capital J&K its highest tax revenue, and a crisis. Air pollution and smoking have been established as the primary reasons for COPD in India. J&K witnesses widespread burning of biomass fuel for cooking and heating, as well as widespread smoking, which together cause highest prevalence rate for COPD in the state. J&K, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand and Haryana report COPD figures equal or greater than 4,750 per 100,000 population the highest across India in 2019. In J&K, acute exacerbation of COPD (AECOPD) in about 470,000 chronic patients annually costs around Rs 210 crore, enough to set up four maternity hospitals, one study has estimated. Users in the state consumed tobacco products worth Rs 5,530 crore over the seven years to 2017-18, according to the estimates of VHAI, based on the 40% sales tax imposed on these items by the government. (After the implementation of the Goods and Services Tax regime in the state in 2018-19, the tax rate is now down to 28%.) Annually, the state consumes tobacco products worth an average Rs 800 crore (Rs 8 billion) reveals the analysis. Year-wise data from these sales figures suggested that the consumption of tobacco products is rising in the state. Studies done at Sher-e-Kashmir Institute of Medical Sciences (SKIMS) Srinagar revealed that there is a very high prevalence of biomass burning and smoking in Kashmir, Both of them are responsible for causing COPD. Smoking itself is a form of biomass burning. Smoking is also responsible for reduced lung function among those living in Kashmir, a study carried out by Dr Koul and others, and published in the International Journal of Tuberculosis and Lung Disease in October 2016, concluded. The team measured the incidence of chronic airflow limitation or CAL, which reduces pulmonary functioning. Most patients we receive in all seasons suffer from COPD,” said a senior consultant at the Chest Diseases Hospital (CDH), Srinagar. And we have observed that most of them have a history of tobacco use. Tobacco use, especially cigarette smoking, is socially acceptable in Kashmir because of the lack of awareness and inadequate advocacy. What is aiding this huge prevalence of tobacco use enormously, especially smoking, is the fact that Kashmir has become a highly stressful zone where people are facing not only challenges associated with daily life, but also those posed by the turbulent security and political situation. When people experience anxiety and stress, they tend to manage the unpleasant feelings by resorting to the use of substances such as tobacco. Upto 45% of J&K’s population experiences mental distress, a survey on mental health in Kashmir, published by Medicines Sans Frontiers (or Doctors without Borders, the international medical humanitarian organization ) in May 2016, revealed. “Nearly 1.8 million adults (45% of the population) in the Kashmir Valley show symptoms of significant mental distress,” the report said. The lack of aggressive public campaigning against smoking in the region. “For example, some time back, an order was issued that incidents of smoking in offices or public places be reported but it has been taken lightly and people continue to smoke in offices and public places. The growing prevalence of smoking, is not only one of the major causes of respiratory diseases but also a gateway to drug abuse among the youth. The authorities should focus on how to involve youth in activities like sports which can potentially help avoid this situation.
Quitting smoking cuts cardiovascular risks. Just 1 year after quitting smoking, your risk for a heart attack drops sharply. Within 2 to 5 years after quitting smoking, your risk for stroke may reduce to about that of a nonsmoker’s. If you quit smoking, your risks for cancers of the mouth, throat, esophagus, and bladder drop by half within 5 years. Ten years after you quit smoking, your risk for dying from lung cancer drops by half.
Smoking And COVID-19: Tobacco smoking is a known risk factor for many respiratory infections and increases the severity of respiratory diseases. A review of studies by public health experts convened by WHO on 29 April 2020 found that smokers are more likely to develop severe disease with COVID-19, compared to non-smokers. COVID-19 is an infectious disease that primarily attacks the lungs. Smoking impairs lung function making it harder for the body to fight off corona viruses and other diseases. Tobacco is also a major risk factor for non communicable diseases like cardiovascular disease, cancer, respiratory disease and diabetes which put people with these conditions at higher risk for developing severe illness when affected by COVID-19. Available research suggests that smokers are at higher risk of developing severe disease and death. WHO is constantly evaluating new research, including research that examines the link between tobacco use, nicotine use, and COVID-19. WHO urges researchers, scientists and the media to be cautious about amplifying unproven claims that tobacco or nicotine could reduce the risk of COVID-19. There is currently insufficient information to confirm any link between tobacco or nicotine in the prevention or treatment of COVID-19. Nicotine replacement therapies, such as gum and patches are designed to help smokers quit tobacco. WHO recommends that smokers take immediate steps to quit by using proven methods such as toll-free quit lines, mobile text-messaging programmes, and nicotine replacement therapies. Within 20 minutes of quitting, elevated heart rate and blood pressure drop. After 12 hours, the carbon monoxide level in the bloodstream drops to normal. Within 2-12 weeks, circulation improves and lung function increases. After 1-9 months, coughing and shortness of breath decrease. WHO stresses the importance of ethically approved, high-quality, systematic research that will contribute to advancing individual and public health, emphasizing that promotion of unproven interventions could have a negative effect on health.
Quitting and Reduced Risks: Quitting smoking cuts cardiovascular risks. Just 1 year after quitting smoking, your risk for a heart attack drops sharply. Within 2 to 5 years after quitting smoking, your risk for stroke may reduce to about that of a nonsmoker’s. If you quit smoking, your risks for cancers of the mouth, throat, esophagus, and bladder drop by half within 5 years. Ten years after you quit smoking, your risk for dying from lung cancer drops by half.We can slow down the progression of all these diseases and stopping smoking is the most effective way to do this.
(The author is a Nursing Research Scholor. Views are his own, bandayaabid@gmail.com)

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