“I curse the day I was introduced to tobacco. Cancer diagnosed at 20 made my life hell. I have not been able to eat anything since then,” said Naveed Shaikh who lost his life to tobacco consumption at the young age of 27. Shaikh’s voice is many from tobacco victims who have succumbed to the addiction. When it comes to tobacco, such stories are disturbingly common in India, yet the numbers and facts paint a bleak picture.
We usually think of crimes, corruption and rising inequalities when we think of big threats to India’s development, but rarely tobacco. Not many people know this but tobacco is the foremost cause of preventable death and disease in the world today, and India bears one of the biggest burdens.
Here are three facts to just put the threat in perspective: