The 24-year-old Mukesh Harane would welcome us in movie theatres before the commencement of our movie. He died of oral cancer in the year 2009 due to excessive consumption of ghutka or chewing tobacco. Just like Mukesh, millions of Indians are killed every year by the harmful effects of tobacco. This substance does not discriminate among its preys as all genders belonging to different age groups, economic statuses, races, and ethnicity are consumers of tobacco.

Mukesh Harane, Source: Deccan Herald

As children, we are always taught that smoking is bad and that those who smoke are bad humans. But as the child enters the complex stage of adolescence, there is the metamorphosis of the individual’s chain of thoughts. Teenagers consider smoking to be “cool”. The first drag of the cigarette taken under peer pressure takes no time to become a voluntary act. Children who have smoker parents grow up with the thought that smoking is a normal act which is performed by adults. Often at a young tender age, individuals are curious and want to try all sorts of things. But it was not curiosity that killed the cat, ignorance did. Curiosity is natural but individuals have to be taught between right and wrong.

What are the harmful effects of tobacco? It is known to be the leading cause of lung cancer. It has impacts on almost all systems of the human body. Tobacco highly contributes to the years of potential life lost. Weakening of immunity, thinking ability, fertility, and genetic defects are all attributed to the ill effects of tobacco.

The diseases caused by tobacco consumption are preventable. Use of different interventions will help enhance public health and protect the future generations from the endangers of tobacco use. People are aware of the common hazardous effect on tobacco use which is cancer but they do not understand the depth of dangers these substances poses on individual health. This basic knowledge should be imparted at schools, workplaces and households. While imparting this wisdom, it should be kept in mind that different facts catch the attention of different age groups. Teenagers are very conscious about their appearance at this tender age. If told about the frightful impacts of smoking on skin, they may imbibe the seriousness of avoiding or quitting smoking. The harmful impact of smoking on fertility and cause of birth defects in the fetus will be more appealing to couples trying to conceive and pregnant women. Smoking not only puts lives of the primary consumer but also those around them.

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay 

Through a study, it was known that 94% of Indians do not have the intentions to quit smoking. Quitting consumption of tobacco in any form is not a cakewalk. There are substances like nicotine, present in these products that facilitate the addiction process. An individual will not realise when they moved to 4 cigarettes a day to a packet per day.

Peer pressure, stress, assertion of independence, need for acceptance and recognition are some of the known causes for why a person seek dependence on substances like tobacco. People crave for the “rush”. The mind plays an important role when it comes to addiction. We need to teach the people how to refrain from taking the first drag or first bite of this silent killer. Interventions that prioritise wellness of mental health have to put into action. Having insecurities makes us human but one should not give into ill temptations because of them. Mental disorders can coerce an individual to be a victim of tobacco consumption and vice versa. Programs focusing on stress management, personality development, mental wellness etc should be implemented to individuals from a young age so that they learn to deal with hardships in a healthy and right manner. The implementation of this measure with the right guidance can not only save lives of future generations but also offer them a better quality of life.

Celebrities in different spheres of profession have vast influence on minds of people who look up to them. Already many actors are the face of anti-tobacco consumption campaigns. Individuals who are vested with power should use it for a good cause. These individuals should be encouraged to spread awareness regarding harmful effects of tobacco. We already have advertisements which display pictorial representation of the harm it does to the human body in form of different cancers and other ailments. India was one of the first countries to have strict laws against promotion of tobacco consumption through media. Though health advisory is given on cigarette packets and TV screens, individuals continue to consume this poison. Mediums of mass communication must abstain from exhibiting the act of tobacco consumption in any form which conveys a message to the audience in favour of this act.

Nicotine patches and gums have gained popularity. Innovations like vapes which is an electronic cigarettes, free of tobacco came into play as alternatives to cigarettes. Vapes are considered to be many times safer than cigarettes but is not the safest option. An increase in prices of these products may help reduce the sales.

The causative agent of the currently ongoing pandemic attacks is mainly the respiratory system. Now, with Covid-19 being a part of our lives, it is important that steps are taken to defend our vital organ systems. Not just the practice of handwashing, wearing face masks, and social distancing but also performing breathing exercises like pranayam, and yoga has to be inculcated in individuals’ daily habits. These practices will make our lungs immune as well as act as effective means to reduce stress and nurture our mental health.


Image by GOQii

Addiction can make good people do bad things. As humans, we all possess the quality of willpower. When this willpower falls short, we can deviate from the right path, and getting back is not easy. It is time to take all necessary steps to protect the future lungs. It is time to focus on prevention which is better than the cure.

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