Be smart. Do not start.
“Warning: Tobacco and cigarette consumption is injurious to health.” A statement which one encounters in public places. Every budget the finance minister announces enhancing the taxes on Tobacco products. Despite all these, the consumption of Tobacco keeps increasing. Tobacco, one of the most widely used addictive substances globally, and Tobacco and cigarette consumption are proven to be one of the prime causes of lung cancer, mouth cancer, and other harmful diseases.
“National No Smoking Day” held every second Wednesday of March (this year, on March 10) and is designed to reach out to friends or family members who suffer from nicotine addiction. “National No Smoking Day” originated in the Republic of Ireland in 1984 on Ash Wednesday, when the ruling clergy appealed to give up smoking for Lent. Lent is a solemn religious observance in the Christian liturgical calendar that begins on Ash Wednesday and ends approximately six weeks later, the night before Easter Sunday. Medical reports linking smoking to cancer first appeared in the 1920s, extensive research confirming tobacco usage leading to many serious diseases.
Historically, many heavy smokers populated the Republic of Ireland, but the numbers steadily declined in recent years. Six trillion cigarettes are still produced each year, representing over a 12% increase since 2000. China is accounting for over 40% of current world production. The WHO states Tobacco kills up to half of its users, with more than 8 million people dying each year. More than 7 million of those deaths result from direct tobacco use, with ~1.2 million deaths resulting from exposure to second-hand smoke. Over 80% of the world’s tobacco users live in low- and middle-income countries.
The introduction of Tobacco in India is attributed to the Portuguese who brought it in 16-17 century. Tobacco cultivation in India began in 1787. Because of Tobacco’s commercial value, India established several tobacco research stations and institutions in the country. Tobacco is an important commercial crop and cultivated in about 0.4 million hectares in India. China and Brazil are topping in the production of Tobacco, and India following them in the third position. Most of the Indian states grow some Tobacco. Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Gujarat, are the major tobacco-producing states. It is estimated that about 6 million farmers and 20 million farm labourers are engaged in tobacco farming, with nearly 4 million people are involved in the tobacco trade. Primary beneficiaries of tobacco farming are small farmers, rural women, and tribal youth. There is a need to identify alternate crops to ensure these people’s livelihood is not affected. Indian Council of Agricultural Research has suggested a judicious mix of alternative crops.
Recent statistics from the WHO indicate that the number of males using Tobacco is on the decline. Government-led actions can protect people from Tobacco, save lives and prevent peoples suffering. One of them is giving up smoking on this day, the studies indicate.
While the world is battling to cope with the COVID pandemic, the light at the end of the tunnel is seen with the vaccine’s administration. Still, there are many perils that haunt societies. Smoking is one such. It is time the world moves towards Tobacco-free communities. Can we hope to see it happening in a not-so-distant future?
Be smart. Do not start.
Toons: Anusha and Reema Jaiswal
Logs: Sai Baba