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Everyday 5,500 children get lured to tobacco addiction: Expert

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Shimla: Everyday 5,500 children get lured to lifelong tobacco addiction and one-third of them put their lives at risk as a consequence, inviting cancer, heart attack, brain stroke and asthma, an expert said on Friday.

Dr Naresh Purohit, Principl Investigator for the National Integrated Disease Surveillance Programme and noted epidemiologist told UNI that India has the second-largest number of tobacco consumers (268 million) in the world.

“As per the current trend, cigarettes are replacing bidis, hookahs, among youth and also illiterate people, while among the upper classes, cigarettes are being replaced by cigars which have a high concentration of tobacco-specific Nitrosamines (TSNAs) that are the strongest cancer-causing substances.” Purohit said after delivering an address at the Continuing Medical Education (CME) Programme on Dangers of Smoking and Drinking organised by the Chamba-based Pt Jawahar Lal Nehru Government Medical College.

“Secondhand smoking is as harmful as smoking. Exposure to secondhand smoke causes lung cancer and heart disease in adults, and the impairment of lung function and respiratory infections in children.” he cautioned.

Purohit, who is also the Advisor for National Cancer Control Programme said that smoking worsens lung function and reduces immunity. All designated smoking areas in hotels and restaurants and even airports should be abolished to ensure a 100 percent smoke-free environment. Most of these designated smoking areas are rarely compliant as per Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products Act (COTPA) requirements and are actually putting the public at great health risk from exposure to secondhand smoke.

“In India, smoking is banned in all public places under the Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products (Prohibition of Advertisement and Regulation of Trade and Commerce Production, Supply and Distribution) Act, 2003. Section 4 of this Act prohibits smoking in any place to which the public has access.” he averred

He added that COTPA 2003, presently allows smoking in certain public places like restaurants, hotels, and airports in designated smoking areas.

The renowned Infectious Disease Expert stated that one million deaths are caused by smoking with over 2,00,000 resulting from secondhand smoke exposure, and over 35,000 are due to smokeless tobacco use every year.

“Nearly 27 percent of all cancers in India are due to tobacco usage” he added

He pointed out that the smoke from tobacco consists of thousands of chemicals, including at least 80 known to cause cancer. These cancer-causing chemicals are mentioned as carcinogens. Some of the chemicals found in tobacco smoke include lead, hydrogen cyanide, formaldehyde, arsenic and other radioactive elements.

Experts in the CME said that tobacco smoke contains almost 80 carcinogens. These cancer-causing agents can lead to many cancers in the body.

They said a recent report by the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) estimates that almost 25 percent of the cancers were tobacco-related.”

They averred that though warnings are mentioned on the packets of cigarettes, people are attracted to smoking and are not able to get rid of that. Those who are smokers should take the help of a psychologist so that they can quit smoking. Also, smoking not only causes cancer, but it also leads to many other diseases like cardiovascular disease, stroke, and other inflammatory body diseases.

They emphasised that there is a lot of need to create awareness about smoking and its bad effects on health. The most common cancers of the oral cavity and lung in men and cervix and breast in women are caused because of smoking

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