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Tips and guidelines to quit smoking

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A Silent Killer


REFLECTIONS -Dr Rajan Philips -One life is snatched away every six seconds somewhere across the world by a monster called tobacco. It is rather ironic that this highly avoidable cause of death is created and nurtured by humans.

As we embark on observing the ‘World No Tobacco Day’, it is but appropriate that we contemplate the consequences of addiction to tobacco and act decisively to weed out this health hazard.

First, we need to realise the gravity and magnitude of the problem. The annual death toll stands at around five million. This could rise to eight million by 2030 unless urgent measures are taken globally. It claimed 100 million lives in the 20th century. At this pace, 21st century would have the dubious distinction of contributing to one billion such deaths. These chilling facts ought to stir us into action.

Cigarette smoking is the most common, though not the only, form of tobacco addiction. We have other equally damaging versions of tobacco abuse like smoking of water pipes, pipes, cigars and beedi as well as chewing of tobacco. They are all life threatening.

Sustained anti-tobacco measures have brought down the level of smoking in many developed countries. Yet, the total consumption of tobacco is increasing globally. Sadly, 80 per cent of the world’s one billion smokers live in low- and middle-income countries and their numbers, especially among teenagers and women, are growing. They apparently view smoking as a sign of independence and empowerment.

The substantial time lag between a person beginning to use tobacco and a downturn in his state of health creates complacency. Many users tend to ignore the warning signals for too long.

Apart from the risk smokers face, the grave consequences of second-hand smoke or passive smoking is equally disturbing. 40 per cent of children have at least one parent who smokes. The possibility of others in the family catching on this habit is quite strong. The long term negative effect on the unborn baby of a pregnant smoker is not less alarming. Nicotine has been found in amniotic fluid and the umbilical cord blood of newborn infants!

Similarly, imagine the victims of second-hand smoking in places like restaurants and malls. The call for uncompromising and stringent measures like total ban on smoking in public places is thus a very welcome step. That the Sultanate has already done so is a matter of gratification.

What makes tobacco such an enemy to our health? There are more than 4,000 chemicals in tobacco smoke. About 250 of these are harmful and 50 are known to cause cancer. Nicotine, the drug in tobacco, is highly addictive.

Today, many addictive smokers who are convinced of the dangers of tobacco, desire to quit smoking. But this is no easy task. Counselling and medication may help. Friends and dear ones also need to step in by providing emotional support. It is surely worth the effort. Studies have established that within 20 minutes of smoking that last cigarette, the body initiates a series of positive changes that continues for years. In 20 minutes, the heart rate drops. In ten years, risk of death due to lung cancer is halved.

The annual observance of “No Tobacco’ Day with specific themes thus assumes great relevance. The 2011 Day with the theme “The WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control” is a significant milestone. 172 countries are parties to this convention.
Let us sincerely hope that governments, NGOs, medical communities and individuals like you and me would join hands to make our world a safer and healthier place for all.

 “It’s easy to quit smoking. I’ve done it hundreds of times.” — Mark Twain

( Courtesy article by Dr.Rajan Philips, Observer Newspaper )

Tips and guidelines to quit smoking

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