Join Hands To Rid Kashmir Of Tobacco Menace

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Recently, the Global Adult Tobacco Sur­vey indicated that smoking and tobacco use causes 8-9 lakh deaths annually all around the world. The survey further revealed that the state of Jammu and Kashmir is among top states losing lives to tobacco and spends more than other states on tobacco products. This reflects that we as a society have been unsuccessful in restraining the menace of tobacco and our endeavors have been ineffective and insufficient, thus have not come to fruition.

Tobacco imposes a prodigious burden of disease and death leading to catastrophic health, social, eco­nomic and environmental effects. The relationship between the use of tobacco and dreadful diseases is well established and well known today. Tobacco Smoking is hazardous to health and a causative agent of many physiological problems, like; cardio­vascular problems, emphysema, tuberculosis, diges­tive malfunctioning, chromosomal abnormality etc. The Cigarette is now commonly described as ‘Can­cer-Stick’ due to its link with cancer. According to American Lung Association, there are about 600 in­gredients in a cigarette, which on burning produce 7000 chemicals, 69 of which cause various kinds of Cancer; lung cancer, lip cancer, kidney cancer and cancer of the larynx. Moreover, the fact that smok­ing is the gateway to illicit drug use has escalated the problem.

Even after knowing these facts, why are peo­ple still lighting up a cigarette or using tobacco in other ways?. This is a crucial question; we need to ponder over before pressing for curbing and con­trolling this menace

The reasons, why people smoke, are many, which include social and psychological factors; how­ever, the addictive nature of tobacco is the biggest concern. Many, who have smoked or are smoking too, are highly motivated to leave smoking but are not able to do so easily. Though quitting smoking is tough, it is not impossible. There exist many myths related to smoking like; Smokers have no sufficient willpower to stop smoking, they have addictive personalities etc. All of these are untrue. There are many examples where chain-smokers succeeded in quitting smoking. At this point, it is important to note that the ways of giving up smoking depend upon ‘why’ a person smokes. And a person can start the ‘stop-smoking strategy’ accordingly. If a person is a smoker because of unpleasant situations/condi­tions, he is caught in, he needs to devise a plan to handle the situation rather than turning to a ciga­rette/tobacco. A person must discern that ‘bad times come and go, but the health once deteriorated is hard to recuperate’. Similarly, people smoking for fun, to kill boredom or to change chaos into calm must re­alize the fact that the calmness brought by smoking is short-lived but restlessness that it brings towards the end can be devastating.

It is outrightly commendable and heartening that government expresses concern and is showing interest towards this matter. ‘Cigarette and other tobacco products act (COTPA) 2003’ represented government’s keenness in tobacco control. This act prohibits smoking in public places, advertisement of tobacco products, and does not permit the selling of tobacco to minors (below the age of 18yrs). Also, it emphasized manufacturers to have pictorial warn­ing of a skull or scorpion, in addition to the warn­ing in text format reading ‘smoking kills’ etc. In addition to this, there are many other provisions di­rected to contain and put a bridle on the spike of this problem. But, unluckily, we are in a society where most of the people believe ‘laws are meant to be bro­ken’ irrespective of the nature of the law. Like other laws, COTPA has not been much effective. Obvious­ly, there is a need to devise a proper plan of action to implement laws in letter and spirit. Furthermore concerned people, including physicians, activists, teachers, and parents must continue their efforts and work collaboratively with authorities to rein­force each other. When government and common masses would be in sync on this issue, then all our attempts would find realization and tobacco menace will not be difficult to contain.

Zeeshan Rasool Khan

[email protected]

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