Above 8 million people die from tobacco use, mindfulness effective in quitting smoking

Porni Banerjee: Cigarette smoking is injurious to health. It causes cancer! While this ‘age-old’ statement is highly common and multiple digital media platforms make the most use of it to raise mass awareness, how many ‘actually care’? Internet is over-flooded with information regarding the hazardous effects of tobacco consumption on both smokers and even non-smokers.

On the occasion of ‘World Anti-Tobacco Day’ celebrated every year on May 31, the World Health Organization (WHO) highlighted that tobacco use kills more than 8 million people every year. Besides, tobacco proves to be lethal even for second-hand smokers causing 1.2 million fatalities annually. Deaths of nearly 65,000 children are reported each year due to illnesses caused by passive smoking. Smoking during pregnancy can also put health conditions of babies at major risk.

“Smoking also has a direct impact on mental health as prolonged suffering from Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) triggers anxiety and depression in patients. Smoking cessation clinics are available at all government hospitals and medical colleges that provide counseling sessions and medications to help one quit smoking,” said Dr Soumya Bhattacharya, Pulmonologist, Techno Global Health in Kolkata’s Barrackpore area.

As per an anticipation made by WHO, COPD will be the third leading cause of death by 2030 due to a growth in the consumption rate of tobacco. 

“Smoking has become a more worrisome factor as a trend of increased smoking behaviour is witnessed in women nowadays. Female cancer patients are on the rise today, which was rare earlier. Out of nearly eight lung patients we come across, every 2 to 3 are cancer patients at our hospital,” Dr Bhattacharya added.

In addition to impaired lung capacity, smoking contributes to cardiovascular diseases, cancer, premature deaths and speeds up skin ageing and even disabilities among productive adults. The nicotine content in cigarettes also aggravates hypertension, increases hair loss, early graying and balding as well.

According to Dr. Jitin Yadav, Onco Surgeon at Regency Healthcare, smoking can worsen diabetes management and regulating insulin levels. “Smoking can also make managing the diabetes and regulating insulin levels more difficult. This is because high levels of nicotine can lessen the effectiveness of insulin, causing smokers to need more insulin to regulate blood sugar levels,” Dr. Yadav said.

Furthermore, apart from negative health impacts, smoking also has devastating effects on the environment. Around 3.5 million hectares of land are destroyed annually for tobacco cultivation that contributes to deforestation, especially in the developing economies because of its maximum production. Deforestation ultimately promotes massive land degradation.

A report by WHO revealed that felling of almost 600 million trees takes place to make cigarettes. Moreover, the smoke released from cigarettes emits about 84 million tonnes of CO2 that causes global warming.

Besides seeking help from health care professionals, practicing mindfulness activities including meditation and Yoga can bring you out of this addictive behaviour.

“If you have the mental strength, you can successfully quit smoking. It is not that difficult,” said Dr Santanu Sen.

For many, smoking cravings can be very strong. However, several studies have shown the practice of yoga can be effective to quit smoking. Some of the yoga poses such as Child’s pose, Breath of Fire, Bow Pose, Yogendra Pranayam, deep-breathing techniques, Savasana, among others can help you cope up with tobacco urges.

Additionally, besides releasing stress and anxiety, research has proven yoga to reverse the damages to the body caused by smoking.

Although smoking can prove mentally challenging to some, developing a perception to realize the harmful effects of smoking can save you, your loved ones and the planet as a whole. Just give it a try!

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