As per WHO, in the current pandemic of Covid-19, recent research has proven that smokers are at a higher risk of severe health implications because of impaired lung function.
Tobacco kills more than 1 million people in India which is 9.5% of all deaths. The most common way tobacco kills is by Cardiovascular diseases – 48%, deaths by cancer – 10%.
Smoking is emerging as a trend in young adults and adolescents. A study published by All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) establishes that adult users of tobacco start tobacco use in their teenage years. Developing countries like India have become a target for tobacco companies. Teenagers usually start smoking because of these marketing strategies used by the tobacco companies.
Smoking is now getting common in girls as well. As per recent survey done in Mumbai, almost 29% girls were regular smokers in the age group of 18-25 years.
Factors that initiate smoking in adolescents
- Marketing strategies: The tobacco companies target the youth of the country as they can be influenced easily. Companies are targeting women by marketing light, mild, and menthol cigarettes, and introducing advertising directed at women. Moreover cigarettes are displayed at kids eye-level in stores to directly target the new generation.
- Peer pressure: Almost 50-60% teenagers start smoking with friends or get influenced to try smoking when around friends. Teenagers relate smoking to being ‘cool’ around their friends and peers.
- Indirect influence of family members: 20-25% teenagers see their parents or elder siblings to smoke and develop an urge to try smoking to feel matured or grown up.
- Assuming to stress bust: Studies and surveys have shown that almost 52% of teenagers believe smoking can increase concentration and relieve stress.
- Smoking for weight loss: Studies show that teenagers start smoking to reduce weight as nicotine suppresses the hunger sensation. It is one of the worst way to lose weight.
Other health impacts due to regular smoking:
- Studies have shown that smoking affects the absorption of various nutrients in the body. Micro-nutrients like Vitamin D, Vitamin C and calcium deficiencies are common in smokers
- Smoking contributes to gastric ulcer, acid reflux and some liver diseases.
- Smoking increases the chances of several diseases like Crohn’s disease, pancreatitis or gallstones.
- Smoking adversely affects dental health. It can build and store tartar and cause teeth to discolour. Smoking also causes bad breath due to increased bacterial activities.
- Smoking makes females more susceptible to cervical cancer, breast cancer and have issues in conceiving babies.
Youth are now shifting to vape or e-cigarettes but they are also harmful as most of them contain nicotine and other harmful products.
Vitamin C has been proven to have few positive effects on the damage caused by smoking to certain extent. An increased dose of daily intake of Vitamin C, 35 mg more than the usual requirement of 40mg is required for smokers to reduce the free radicals formed in the body by smoking.
Role of Parents and Adults
- Surveys have shown that teenagers believe that they will continue smoking if there is no resistance from their parents. Hence parents and elders must be conscious and educate teenagers early about the harmful consequences of smoking.
- Parents should act as positive role models to their children and discuss and try to analyse smoking habits early and counsel them to stop smoking as early as possible.