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The study says more than 80 percent of oral cancers in India are caused by tobacco consumption

The study says more than 80 percent of oral cancers in India are caused by tobacco consumption


May 24 (IANS) - Tobacco use is a growing problem in India, with millions turning to tobacco to cope with the stresses of modern life, according to reports. It has also become a way of life for many people in rural and remote areas.

According to the India Global Adult Tobacco Survey, nearly 267 million adults aged 15 and older in India are regular consumers of tobacco. Besides smoking, the most common form of tobacco use is in the inland towns and villages of India, where smokeless tobacco is commonly used as khaini, gutkha, betel nut and tobacco and zarda.

The mortality statistics from tobacco consumption in India are alarming. More than 8 million people die each year from tobacco consumption, including more than 7 million from direct tobacco use and about 1.2 million from non-smokers' exposure to second-hand smoke. The most shocking fact is that over 80% of oral cancers are directly caused by smoking.

While most people are aware of the dangers of tobacco use, many are unaware of the harm secondhand smoke can cause to those near the smoker. Exposure to this secondhand smoke has been linked to an increased risk of lung cancer, heart disease and stroke, especially for non-smokers.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), about 52% of non-smoking adults in India have been exposed to second-hand smoke at home and 29% in the workplace.

With rapid urbanization and economic growth, many people are facing new challenges and stresses they may not have experienced before and are turning to tobacco as a coping mechanism. Another reason for the increase in use is the tobacco industry's aggressive marketing and promotion of tobacco products, especially among young people. In addition, the lack of strict regulation and enforcement of the sale and distribution of tobacco products makes it easy for people to access these products and become addicted to them. This tobacco consumption thus poses a major public health problem.

To address this growing public health problem, governments must take a more active role in reducing tobacco use. This can be done by increasing taxes on tobacco products, enforcing strict rules on their sale and distribution, and funding educational programmes aimed at raising awareness about the dangers of tobacco use.

But quitting isn't easy. This is a process that will take time, effort and commitment.

Thankfully, nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) has emerged as a rescue method that can largely manage a person's withdrawal symptoms. This treatment helps tobacco users quit smoking by temporarily replacing nicotine in tobacco and reducing the incentive to consume tobacco, thereby reducing nicotine withdrawal symptoms. By delivering a controlled dose of nicotine, which can be tapered off gradually, NRT can help users break their physical addiction to tobacco and improve their chances of successfully quitting. Nicotine replacement therapy comes in many forms, such as gum, patches, nasal spray, inhalants and pastilles; It can be a useful tool to facilitate the transition from smoking to complete cessation.

If you or someone you know is trying to quit smoking, be sure to seek the support and guidance of a healthcare professional. S/he can advise on available options and support throughout the quitting process.

It's also important to remember that quitting smoking is a journey. It may take several attempts to succeed, but it's worth it. The benefits of quitting smoking are significant and long-lasting. Not only does it reduce the risk of tobacco-related diseases, it improves overall health and well-being, extends life expectancy and saves money.

The author is a consultant psychiatrist at Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike, Bangalore. The views expressed are personal.

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