By Shivani Singh:
“Let’s go catch a smoke!” — A common line these days around college campuses and schools across India. The youth burning up their lives in smoke. Yesterday was ‘World No Tobacco Day’ and this year let’s see the stats and decide for ourselves whether we want this or not.
Tobacco is of course injurious to health, the government tried to stop the consumption by raising the prices of tobacco related products. But this didn’t deter the people who used tobacco since it’s an addiction. Each day in India 1500 students become chain smokers for life and more than 3700 start smoking for the first time. These statistics are very alarming. An even more alarming fact is the death toll rising to 1 million in 2010 mostly including people who started smoking when they were young. One in every 10 deaths in India is due to tobacco related products and this is very shocking since this can be totally prevented if the youngsters are careful. 90% of tobacco addicts have started at a very young age. A man shortens his life by 6 years and women 8 years by smoking.
Tobacco addiction usually starts at a very young age since an immature mind like ours (the youth) can only be attracted to things which are actually harmful. Our mind is too naÃ¯ve, unprotected and still developing and once we get caught up in our lives in college and school, we start smoking. There can be many reasons as to why a student starts smoking – peer pressure to fit in the friend circle, to act “cool”, to de-stress from the burden of life, low economic status, lower self-image or self-esteem, lack of parental support, smoking by parents, and last but certainly the most important point is thecavailability of tobacco based products in the vicinity.
We as the young minds can protect ourselves by not falling into this web but since we are still immature we do need a guiding light. Our parents should support us and not let us fall into this trap, they should themselves stop smoking if they do, and raise a child’s self-confidence. We don’t have to start smoking just to fit in one group — you should be mature enough to understand that you cannot degrade your entire life just to be in one group for a few years of your college or school life. Even if you don’t smoke you’ll have friends and companions much better than the ones who are sick every time due to drug overdose or tobacco consumption.
The government should also take up measures which are more stringent like not selling tobacco to people below the age of 30 since tobacco affects the young more adversely. They should also see that the availability of such goods is not so easy. We get so many ‘tapris’ and shops selling cigarettes just outside our colleges.
More deaths are caused each year by tobacco use than by all deaths from (HIV) AIDS, illegal alcohol use, suicides, and murders combined. That’s a huge number! Smoking increases the risk of dying from cancer of the lungs, esophagus, larynx, and oral cavity including smokeless tobacco, a known cause of cancer. The nicotine increases the risk of sudden death, where the heart does not beat properly (ventricular arrhythmias) and, as a result, the heart pumps little or no blood to the body’s organs.
We should remember that tobacco based products only ruin our life — just to have some fun for a few seconds of your life. Don’t do it. Do you want to keep smelling like an ash tray your entire life? Your life being burnt there, reduced to ashes. Suffering from ailments like lung cancer, emphysema, etc. It’s not “so cool” to have bad breath and have stained teeth with decaying gums. No it isn’t. It’s not “so cool” to become bonded to nicotine addiction which slowly takes away your life from you! Try to change if you are smoking and try not to fall for it which you are not. Only one person out of 10 people succeeds in leaving nicotine addiction! Be sure to not even try it!
The writer is a Correspondent of Youth Ki Awaaz.