TOI 1st June 2012 Kick the Butt

Kick the Butt

Why are tobacco-related statistics so alarming in India Norbert Rego explores

Tobacco,the oldest nerve poison known to humankind,is unfortunately,legally available and most addictive of all.This means that even one paan,gutka,bidi,cigarette or hookah is enough to get one addicted.
Tobacco de-addiction specialist Dr Jagruti Chasmawala says,It chokes and kills our cells by depriving them of oxygen and adversely affects all our body parts.When we consume tobacco our heart rate increases by 8-10 beats per minute in a few seconds.Repeated tobacco abuse leads to a higher pulse rate and blood pressure all the time.This leads to an increased workload for the heart,which gives rise to heart disease or stroke.
Also,tuberculosis has become more prevalent due to this vice and 20 per cent of all cancers are directly related to tobacco.Dr Sanjay Sharma,surgical oncologist,says,Treatment for oral cancer is difficult as it causes disfigurement of face,difficulty to speak (change in voice) or loss of voice.In a family,passive smoking may lead to cancer and retarded growth in a foetus.
There is no one sure-shot remedy for tobacco addiction.The World Health Organisation (WHO) states that tobacco deaddiction needs a multi-pronged approach.This means that one must select a quit plan that is based on scientific,safe and proven methods,adequate symptom relief and control,regular supervision by an expert and adequate maintenance phase.
The tobacco leaf consists of nearly 4,000 noxious chemicals.When we quit,we get a host of unpleasant symptoms within a few hours.These are called withdrawal symptoms craving,drowsiness,panic,anxiety,nausea,giddiness,dry mouth,headache,body ache,stomach ache,irritability and loss of temper.When the situation becomes unbearable,the hapless abuser seeks relief from these unpleasant symptoms by consuming tobacco.
Many people believe that a strong willpower is enough to quit tobacco,which is a myth.Only one-two per cent tobacco abusers succeed in quitting without any help.This myth prevents abusers from seeking professional help.They attribute their lack of success to their so called poor will-power and never quit tobacco.When the withdrawal symptoms are controlled,the kick of the tobacco is also removed, adds Dr Chasmawala.Tobacco kills,but lack of awareness about it kills even more.
Vincent Nazareth of Crusade Against Tobacco laments,Nowadays many children are not aware about the ill effects of tobacco.After lecturing many school children,we have petitioned the Ministry of Health to add a chapter of tobacco in the school curriculum.These petitions have been forwarded to the members of Parliament,but till date nothing has happened. norbert.rego@timesgroup.com