According to WHO, tobacco consumption continues to be the leading preventable cause of death in the world. It is responsible for more than 7 million deaths across the world. More than 6 million of those deaths are the result of direct tobacco use while around 890 000 are the result of non-smokers being exposed to second-hand smoke.
A highly addictive substance, tobacco contains the stimulant nicotine and it is consumed most commonly as cigarettes which are smoked or as other preparations which are chewed.
This addictive habit is causing severe negative consequences to humanity as tobacco users who die prematurely deprive their families of income, raise the cost of healthcare and hinder economic development.
Having more than 4000 chemicals, tobacco smoke has 250 harmful chemicals out of which 50 are known to cause cancer. Here’s how tobacco affects your health:
Tobacco consumption increases the risk of cancer of respiratory tract, lung, upper gastrointestinal tract, liver, pancreas, kidney, urinary bladder, oral cavity, nasal cavity, cervix, etc. Smokeless tobacco (chew tobacco, snuff etc.) is a major cause of cancer of the oral cavity.
- Cardiovascular diseases
Tobacco usage increases your chances of getting blood clots, heart disease, angina, cardiac arrest, brain stroke and erectile dysfunction.
- Respiratory Diseases
It can cause Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), asthma, and also lead to tuberculosis
- Effect on pregnancy and its outcome
Women who smoke or consume tobacco are at risk of bleeding during pregnancy, ectopic pregnancy, miscarriage/abortion, premature delivery of baby, stillbirth and abnormalities of the placenta.
- Effects on newborns and childhood
Maternal tobacco use during pregnancy and exposure of child to second-hand smoke in childhood can lead to congenital malformations in the baby like orofacial clefts, clubfoot and atrial-septal defects. Also such children have Increased risk of allergies, higher blood pressure, increased likelihood of obesity, stunted growth and increased likelihood of developing asthma.
- Other health disorders caused by tobacco
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Kidney damage
- Eye Disease: Age-Related Macular Degeneration
- Dental Disease like caries
- Inflammatory bowel diseases
With so many health problems caused by tobacco consumption, it makes a lot of sense to quit tobacco. But unfortunately many people find it difficult to quit because of nicotine addiction. Here are some ways you can quit the tobacco habit and tell your loved ones to do the same:
- Nicotine replacement therapy
Consult your doctor about nicotine replacement therapy. Short-acting therapies such as nicotine gum, lozenges, nasal sprays or inhalers can help you overcome intense cravings.
- Avoid triggers
Identify your trigger situations when the urges to smoke are the highest and have a plan in place to avoid them entirely or get through them without using tobacco.
If you feel like you’re going to give in to your tobacco craving, wait for 10 minutes and try to distract yourself into some another activity.
- Eat something during a craving
Chew on healthy snacks, chewing gum or hard candy, or munch on raw carrots, celery, nuts or sunflower seeds during a craving.
- Get some physical activity
Regular exercise can uplift your mood and reduce your need to smoke for relaxation.
- Try some relaxation techniques
Try some yoga or Tai Chi as these techniques are proven to reduce stress and can help during a craving.
- Talk to friends and family
Your loved ones can be a great motivating factor in your decision to quit. Talk to them when you feel like smoking or stressed.
- Strong Will
Most importantly, it will be your strong will and your commitment to your and your family’s health that will help you stay away from tobacco. Realise the health benefits of a tobacco-free life and say goodbye to this habit for once and all.