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Exclusive: Smoking among young generation escalates globally, say doctors

Porni Banerjee | ৩১ মে ২০২৪ ১১ : ১৪

Porni Banerjee
‘Cigarette smoking is injurious to health, it causes cancer’. Despite repeated warnings through this statement to people about the dangers associated with tobacco consumption, tobacco-related deaths continue to increase worldwide.

And now a 2019 study published by the World Health Organization (WHO) revealed that the deadly practice is shooting up among young generation, including teenagers globally. It has found that 19.33 percent of teenagers consume tobacco in 133 countries, of which 23.29 percent are male smokers and that 15.35 are females.

While mass awareness on the harmful effects of tobacco use has resulted in the drastic fall of smoking in recent years in developed economies, tobacco manufacturing industries have therefore started targeting adolescents aggressively through advertisement strategies. And India is also currently part of this trend. Peer pressure is also one of the leading factors behind this fatal practice.

This multi-billion-dollar industry have been using tricks and devious schemes since decades to attract teenagers and young adults to tobacco for their profit maximization and make their business flourish. The WHO has also backed the fact that they relentlessly launch existing products and promote new ones through advertisements across social media platforms, attractive displays in retail shops, among others.

Today, on ‘World No tobacco Day’, pulmonologist Soumya Bhattacharya from Kolkata’s RG Kar Hospital said, “Smoking among youngsters aged primarily between 14-20 has increased manifold of late and it’s a shock for medical professionals to witness such a drastic rise. This has resulted in a huge footfall of people at hospitals with a wide range of diseases at a very early age. At least 8-10 young patients visit my hospital every day with lung cancer, oral cancer and respiratory illness such as asthma, tuberculosis and COPD. Moreover, pollution coupled with excess smoking is dwindling the lifespan of youngsters.”

“There has also been an alarming spike in the use of e-cigarettes among children and young adults. They consider those as healthier alternatives to regular smoking and do not realise the equally adverse impacts of such a practice as e-cigarette emissions also contain nicotine and other toxic substances,” added Dr Bhattacharya.

Moreover, the trend of increased smoking among women in the last 15-20 years is also worrisome that poses added threat to public health. Besides various physical ailments, smoking can also badly affect the overall development of a foetus during pregnancy.

“Female smokers especially in urban areas have also risen drastically in the last decade. This practice among women is perhaps considered fashionable and marks a symbol of independence as well,” said Dr Bhattacharya.

“The rise in smoking among college going female students have risen and sadly, they consider it a fashion, ignoring the truth that this increased tendency will not only affect them, but their future generations as well,” said pulmonologist Partha Sarathi Bhattacharya from Institute of Pulmocare and Research in Kolkata.

Tobacco consumption in any form – cigarettes, gutka, pan masala, beedi, e-smoking, among others - makes it a serious public health challenge and this unhealthy practice needs to be addressed urgently. In this journey, medical practitioners, therapists and most importantly family should play a crucial role in arresting the concern.

“We are consistently trying to put our sincere efforts to help smokers, especially the young ones come out of the vicious circle of smoking. Our hospital has undertaken various initiatives such as counselling sessions and nicotine replacement therapy to help stubborn smokers and those trying to quit smoking understand the devastating effects of tobacco,” said Soumya Bhattacharya.

Additionally, Partha Sarathi Bhattacharya noted that, “Self-realization is the most powerful tool to understand that tobacco slowly takes away the lives of our loved ones. Any form of force should not be imposed on smokers in the process of giving up the dangerous practice. It is the need of the hour to help all, primarily young smokers, realise that every step towards quitting smoking can save our future generations.”
Life is much better without cigarettes. Immerse yourself into the surreal beauty of nature, practice meditation for a stress-free life, create joyful memories with your loved ones, travel to new places and gift yourself a happy life. 

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