World No Tobacoo Day
Smoking can kill.Commit to quit ! — Dr Ashwani K. Malhotra
It was during my college days that I started smoking. Some of my friends used to smoke and I tried to dissuade them from smoking. They used to laugh at me and even called me a sissy when I refused to smoke. Yet their continued banter and lest I lose their friendship, one day I took a drag from a friend’s cigarette. The first time I nearly choked as the acrid and toxic fumes entered my lungs, but then, gradually it began to have an euphoric effect on me. Well one puff lead to multiple ones and soon I was hooked to them.
Like me many young teenagers start smoking due to peer pressure, for the fun of it and/or because they see many of their favorite film stars smoking on screen and then the young impressionable minds start blowing rings in the air imitating their screen idols. Nowadays many young school children can be seen smoking and chewing tobacco.
All products containing the highly addictive nicotine has over 400 cancer causing chemicals and more than 4000 others. Whether it is smoking a cigarette, bidi or chewing tobacco these chemicals can cause many respiratory and heart diseases and cancers, infertility, impotence and anorexia, while it causes many gynecological problems and abortion and low birth weight babies in women in addition to the diseases found in males.
Perhaps, if you would have known that tobacco causes a death every 4 seconds and 8 million deaths every year in the world, you would stop smoking and chewing tobacco. When I was the District Health Officer at Barnala-Punjab , I would often be heading a team to make the people aware of the ill effects of tobacco use, raid shops who were selling tobacco products to children or who sold them in violation to the to the Cigarettes and other Tobacco Products Act (COTPA). During my interaction with the school and college going youngsters who wanted to quit, but as they were hooked to the highly addictive tobacco and nicotine, would be at a loss as to how to quit.
We are grappling with Covid-19. The corona virus is playing havoc with our lives, therefore it is all the more imperative that smokers stop smoking and tobacco chewers quit chewing tobacco as they are at a higher risk to corona infection.
Quitting an addiction is never easy. With tobacco users it is even tougher. Alternatives such as nicotine free chewing gums, skin patches, playing a sport or inculcating a hobby and keeping oneself busy in creative fields and a steely resolve can help yourself to quit tobacco for ever.
This World No tobacco Day, make a resolve to quit smoking and the use of tobacco in any form. Remember that when you quit, within 20 minutes, your heart rate drops, within 12 hours carbon dioxide levels drop to normal, within 2 to 12 weeks circulation and lung function improves, within 9 months smokers cough and breathlessness reduces and within 5 to 15 years the risk of a stroke reduces to that of a non smoker.
I quit, you can too!
Dr Ashwani K. Malhotra MBBS, PGDMCH, PGDMLS, is a retired Senior Medical Officer,Punjab Government,and can be reached @M-9417188867 E-mail : firstname.lastname@example.org
Dr. Malhotra is also an alumnus of Satish Chander Dhawan Govt. College, Ludhiana