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With mortality rates of Covid-19 being higher among patients with co-morbidities which are directly related to tobacco, Rajiv Gandhi Cancer Institute and Research Centre (RGCIRC) has launched an awareness drive to convince people to quit smoking during these times of health crisis. It is well established that tobacco is a key reason for co-morbidities in a person such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, hypertension, chronic respiratory disease and cancer.
"Covid-19 is primarily a disease of the respiratory system. Since lungs and respiratory tract in tobacco smokers are already compromised, the severity of Covid-19 infection in smokers, such as difficulty in breathing, is far higher than the non-smokers, said A K Dewan, Director Surgical Oncology, Rajiv Gandhi Cancer Institute and Research Centre. According to L M Darlong, Head of Thoracic Oncosurgery at RGCIRC, tobacco is the single leading cause of cancer in India. These include Lung cancer, Head and Neck Cancer, and Oral cancer which are directly related to tobacco consumption. In case of lung cancer, smoking is the leading risk factor and accounts for two-third of lung cancer incidence.
"Smokers are affected far more with severe Covid complications than non-smokers, so quitting tobacco should be the top most promise that one should make to one self," said Mudit Agarwal, Sr. Consultant -- Head & Neck Surgical Oncology at RGCIRC. The World Health Organization (WHO) has also stated that tobacco use increases the risk of suffering from serious symptoms due to Covid-19 illness. Smokers have up to a 50 per cent higher risk of developing severe disease and death from Covid-19, WHO has stated.
According to a recent report released by the National Cancer Registry of India (NCRI) under the Indian Council of Medical Research, as many as 27 per cent of cancer cases are caused due to tobacco consumption.
As per the Global Adult Tobacco Survey (GATS): India 2016-17, nearly 267 million, or 29 per cent Indians aged 15 and above used tobacco in different forms. This makes the tobacco consumption in India as one of the highest in the world. According to Mudit Aggarwal, all those using tobacco should go for regular screening. Oral cancer can be detected early in the pre-cancerous stage through regular screening. In case of early detection, we can have Robotic surgery so that side effects of surgery could be minimized. In case of delay, the cost of treatment is high and survival is poor.
Oral cancer is the most common cancer in males in India. Non-healing ulcer in the mouth especially painless ulcers and any lump in the neck are warning signs that should not be ignored. Darlong has advised to take SMS pledge during Covid pandemic where is S is safe distancing ourselves from tobacco; M is masking ourselves from tobacco; and S is sanitizing ourselves from the toxic effects of tobacco.
( Article originally written by Siddhi Jain) (IANS/MBI)
Keywords: Tobacco, Smoking, Health, Cancer, Lungs, Cigarette
It’s no secret that any type of tobacco use is not healthy. But, for most people, it’s hard to quit. That’s because most of them started the habit as teenagers and because tobacco contains nicotine. “Nicotine is a highly addictive, very powerful drug,” said Dr. Kimberly Horn, Associate Dean of Research at the George Washington University Milken School of Public Health. Horn said teens are likely to use more than one form of tobacco. It could be cigarettes, small cigars, smokeless tobacco. And teens who smoke are likely to use electronic cigarettes, which also deliver nicotine.
“The more nicotine that I get, the more addicted I am, the more difficult it is for me to quit,” she said. There is no one technique for quitting that works for everyone. Some turn to e-cigarettes for help. Cici, who provided only her first name, is hoping electronic cigarettes can help her kick the habit.
“After many years of smoking, I really don’t like the smell of smoke. I don’t like the mess of cigarette butts,” she said. “I don’t like the taste it leaves in my mouth. And I don’t like the fact that other people are going to be bothered by the tobacco smoke.” She admitted to being a heavy smoker and said she was also concerned about the health effects of tobacco use. “When I tried it for the first time, I said, ‘Oh, that’s almost as good as smoking,’” she said. “And then I realized there were so many benefits, and I realized it was better than smoking.”
Stop smoking programs
Studies show electronic devices can work for some people, but not for others. Behavioral therapy and medication and products that reduce nicotine cravings like gum and nicotine patches might help. Dr. Nancy Rigotti at Massachusetts General Hospital and other researchers designed a program to help smokers quit while they were in the hospital and stay smoke-free after they were discharged.
Some patients were given a nicotine patch or medication and counseling in the hospital, with follow-up support after they left.“We know that medication works and that counseling work, but they both together work much better than either one alone,” Rigotti said.
Seventy percent of smokers in that program were still smoke-free six months after leaving the hospital.
The U.S. government and private organizations have been running anti-smoking campaigns since 1964 when the U.S. Surgeon General produced his first report on Smoking and Health. Since then there have been reports on how smoking affects women, youth, and various diseases including diabetes and cancer. A study from the Yale School of Public Health found that those who quit during this time period had a 30-percent improvement in life expectancy.
Dr. Theodore Holford, and co-authors compiled analyzed surveys and compiled personal histories, many of which had detailed information about where people smoked, when they began smoking and when they quit. Holford concluded that between 17 and 18 million deaths in the U.S. were associated with the use of tobacco, and in particular, with cigarette smoking between 1964 and 2014. And, he said, if the government had not started an anti-smoking campaign, “ an additional eight million would have died.” Both studies were published in the Journal of the American Medical Association. (VOA/JC)
The US-based survey has revealed that stress, increased free time, and feelings of boredom may have contributed to an increase in the number of cigarettes smoked per day during the early months of the Covid-19 pandemic.
The findings, published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, indicated that smokers who increased the number of cigarettes they smoked per day could be at greater risk of dependence and have a more difficult time quitting.
“Knowing the reasons for increased tobacco use and the motivations of those who successfully quit smoking can help us identify how to better address cessation efforts during the pandemic,” said researcher Jessica Yingst, Assistant Professor at the Pennsylvania State University in the US.
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For the study, the research team asked 291 smokers in Pennsylvania about their tobacco use patterns before and during the early months of the pandemic including how frequently they used tobacco products, reasons why their use patterns changed and whether they attempted to quit.
Nearly a third of smokers reporting increased use due to stress, increased free time and boredom. One participant stated, “Working at home allows me to smoke at will rather than being in a smoke-free environment for 8 hours per day.”
In contrast, 10 per cent of participants decreased their tobacco use and attributed that to schedule changes, being around non-smokers such as children and health reasons.
Nearly a quarter of participants reported attempting to quit smoking during the pandemic. A third of those who attempted to quit conveyed that they did so to reduce their risk of poor outcomes should they become infected with Covid-19.
One participant stated, “I quit as soon as I came down with a fever and cough. Clearly, I am aware of how detrimental smoking is to my health; however, I did not consider how it could make me more vulnerable to Covid-19 and its effects. I was terrified and quit immediately.”
Ultimately, seven people were successful in quitting all tobacco use. (IANS/KR)
PRAHAR (Public Response Against Helplessness and Action for Redressal), an NGO dedicated to finding solutions for problems of the helpless on Thursday released findings of the first-ever survey among actual users of tobacco products conducted to understand the likely impact of the proposed COTPA Amendment Bill 2020.
The survey polled 1986 respondents across 14 cities spanning Delhi NCR, Jaipur, Lucknow, Ranchi, Kolkata, Guwahati, Mumbai, Nagpur, Vadodara, Bhopal, Chennai, Bangalore, Vijayawada, and Hyderabad.
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Explaining the need for the study, Abhay Raj Mishra, President, and National Convenor, PRAHAR said, “It is an established principle that before framing any law which affects a class of stakeholders, the views of the affected party must be sought. However, in the course of framing and seeking a public response to the provisions of COTPA Amendment Bill 2020 no attempt was made to seek the views of the consumers and actual users of tobacco products. Unlike other groups, consumers are not cohesively represented by any associations or bodies. Therefore, PRAHAR took it upon itself to collect the views of the users and table it for the consideration of the policymakers.”
“What comes out loud and clear from this first-ever study among actual users is huge disgruntlement with the proposed amendments. Consumers believe that the proposed provisions significantly curtail their fundamental rights and freedom to make informed choices and in certain cases will even cause harassment and subject consumers to mental cruelty. COTPA 2020 proposed amendments are self-defeating as instead of serving tobacco reduction goals, they will distort the market structures and lead to an increase in the growth of illegal and inferior products. What we need is a sustained awareness program to achieve the goals of tobacco control instead of coercive policy measures.” he added.
The survey found that 87% of the participants do not support the proposal to ban the sale of loose cigarettes. They believe that this decision to reduce tobacco consumption may instead force smokers to buy full packs which will make cigarettes readily available in their hands leading to an increase in consumption of tobacco.
As per the survey, 57% of consumers buy loose cigarettes as it helps them to smoke less, while only 19% go for it because it is cheaper. Only 7% of respondents felt that ban on the sale of loose cigarettes will make them smokeless.
On the subject of disallowing branding of tobacco products at the point of sale, 76% of respondents said they do not support this proposal. This is because 55% felt that it will limit their fundamental right to make an informed decision as branding is a reinforcement of the legality of the product they are buying. This is particularly relevant because the market is flooded with illegal and smuggled products. 25% of the consumers feel that the move will encourage unscrupulous retailers to promote products that give them more margin.
On the contentious issue of increasing the age for tobacco consumption from the current 18 years to 21 years, a huge majority of 78% of respondents said that they do not support the move. This is because anyone above 18 years of age is an adult as per the Constitution of India which enshrines them the right to exercise choices like marriage and voting, and tobacco should not be any different. 37% of respondents believe that it is their fundamental right to decide whether to consume tobacco or not. Around 8% also felt that this ban will make younger people below 21 years buy illegal products from underground sources.
The survey found little support for the amendment to introduce a ban of designated smoking areas in hotels, restaurants, and domestic airports with a whopping 82% of respondents stating that they do not support such a move. According to feedback from the consumers, this step will lead to harassment and make smokers a subject of mental cruelty by law. If there is no other resort, 51% of consumers confessed to switching over to other forms of tobacco like smokeless products while in transit or outing, which will force them to consume an inferior form of tobacco. Only 13% said they will not smoke while in transit or outside. (IANS/SP)