- Active Smoking: Cigarette is a dirty syringe. A burning cigarette is the devil’s own chemical factory. Cigarettes contain cancer causing tumour initiators and toxic agents such as Arsenic, Tar, Ammonia, Carbon Monoxide, Hydrogen Cyanide, Lead, DDT and Acetaldehydes. The combination of Nicotine with Polonium 210 and other Nitrogens has made tobacco the foremost human poison of the 20th century. Within seconds after the tobacco smoke is inhaled, some 4800 toxic byproducts are absorbed into the blood stream and transported to every cell of the smoker’s body. Chronic inhalation of tobacco smoke exposes the entire body, every tissue and cell to powerful mutagens and carcinogens thus hastening the malignant cellular evolutionary process resulting in a broad spectrum of cancers and other diseases constituting “tobacosis” for which there is no cure.
Besides cancer of mouth, larynx, lung, oesophagus and gastric cancer, the list now includes cataracts, pneumonia, acute myeloid leukemia, aortic aneurysm, pancreatic cancer, cervical cancer, kidney cancer, periodontitis, oral fibrosis and other diseases. Ninety percent of lung cancers are tobacco related.
- Passive Smoking is worse than puffing yourself because it affects non-smokers and results in inhaling of nicotine and other carcinogens while not smoking yourselves – but being affected by it because someone near and dear smokes, you become the victims and have to pay for it, resulting in miscarriages, premature deliveries, low birth weight babies, sudden infant deaths and attention deficient disorders in children, a variety of respiratory diseases and cancers just as if the victim was the active smoker.
- Tobacco Chewing: Gutka, pan masala, khaini and zarda are some of the tobacco products which are implicated in the recent rise in the incidence of oral submucus fibrosis – which has a high rate of malignant transformation and is extremely debilitating and has no known cure, but is preventable. India has a high burden of sub-mucos fibrosis and oral cancer accounting for 1/3rd of the world burden.
It is one of the leading causes of cancers at five leading sites in either sex. The rate of growth of “gutka” chewing has over taken that of smoking forms of tobacco. It has attracted the younger generation more than the older. Wider availability and affordability has even attracted women and made it easier for them to become nicotine addicts by chewing tobacco without attracting social sanction. The rising rate of lung cancer in women in India is a proof of its long term harmful effects. The falling rates of lung cancer in USA and Europe are proof of the effective control methods used for tobacco consumption in these countries because of the awareness and cooperation of the citizenry. We can also do the same. The rising rate amongst the young in India is cause for deep concern – “Save the Youth” is our slogan.