Smoking in India

Smoking is a universal problem. However, the habit of smoking has been experiencing a steady decline in most western countries. The same cannot be said of India. India is a third world country located in Southern Asia. It is the second most populated country in the world. A new study conducted on smoking in India by the New England Journal of Medicine shows that by the year 2010, there will be a million people dying every year through deaths that are caused by smoking related illnesses. India faces a smoking catastrophe.

By recent counts, there are about 94 million smokers in India. Of these, about 14 million are ill from Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD). COPD is the fourth leading cause of adult deaths in India and it has been found to be mostly caused by smoking. Almost 5 percent of women and a third of all men aged between 30 and 69 in India smoke. Aside from the conventional cigarettes, they also smoke bidis which is a type of Asian cigarettes. Bidis are made by wrapping one quarter of the content of a conventional cigarette in a temburni plant. They are usually smaller than normal cigarettes. Smoking of bidis has been found to cause deaths faster; about 6years for men and 8 years for women, than a non smoker. Smoking cigarettes causes death 10 years sooner.

Because of these alarming statistics, the government of India has had to enforce stringent measures to try and curb tobacco use. It is thought that many smokers in India are ignorant of the health risks that smoking poses. Therefore, the first step is to educate mostly the poor and uneducated Indians about the risks associated with smoking. Banning of smoking has been done as well. Smoking related illnesses that are prevalent in India are lung diseases, Cancer, Tuberculosis and heart attacks. This is especially so because smokers in India start smoking when they are older than smokers in USA or Europe.

The study found that 61 percent and 62 percent of men and women respectively aged between 30 and 69 are likely to die from smoking related diseases. This study also made the following revelations

* That smoking 1 to 7 bidis and cigarettes heightened the risk of death by one third and doubled it respectively
* That smoking is the cause of most middle aged deaths on men
* That the risks that smoking poses are not selective they were found in the literate and the illiterate, those living in urban areas and those in rural areas.
* That only 2 percent of smokers in India quit smoking and it usually happens after they become sick

This study was conducted to inform people and educate them on these four facets; that the risks involved in smoking are much greater than people like to believe, that there is no such thing as safe smoking, that smoking decreases your life span and that quitting helps a lot in reversing the damage.

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