WHO estimates 6 million people will die of smoking every year – World No Tobacco Day

1st Jun 2015
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What do Ranbir Kapoor, Sushmita Sen, Sanjay Dutt, Shah Rukh Khan, Brad Pitt, Kate Hudson, Park Jae-sang aka Psy of the famous Gangman Style fame and Jack Nicholson have in common.

Any guesses, No! Here is the answer – all of them smoke cigarettes. Celebrities will of course tell you that ‘smoking is cool’ or ‘it is macho to smoke’. But what they will not tell you is that smoking is injurious to your health.

Image Source: India Spend

He is the Piped Piper of Tamil Cinema, who led his ‘fans’ astray, with his trademark ‘flick-the-cigarette’ style which was faithfully followed by millions of his fans, who took to smoking just like their Idol. Then tragedy struck in 2011, their beloved Thailavar, Rajinikanth, fell ill. Cause of illness smoking, and drinking too. The result: damage to his lungs and kidneys. That he survived to tell the tale is another story.

Have a look at what Rajinikanth and Shah Rukh Khan and the millions of Indians are inhaling when they smoke a cigarette: Each cigarette contains a toxic cocktail of about 4000 chemicals, including nicotine. The 4000 include Acetone and Benzene (used mainly as solvents); Ammonia (used in cleaning liquids); Arsenic (a deadly poison also used in insecticides); Cadmium (a harmful metal); Carbon monoxide (a poisonous gas that enters the bloodstream) and Tar (a mixture of chemicals that clogs up the lungs).

Just imagine the damage caused by ingesting this deadly cocktail of chemicals into our system day in and day out.

In case you didn’t know, “about 10,880 crore cigarette sticks were sold in India last year, according to estimates by analysts.” For comparison, India’s population today is about 128 crores.

More numbers brought out by the World Health Organization (WHO) show that approximately 11 crore Indians smoke cigarettes and each and every one of these smokers knows for sure that ‘smoking is injurious to health’.

Our country is just a tip of the iceberg, WHO reports that worldwide, approximately six million people (six crore) people will die of smoking every year and out of these will be 10 lakh Indians.

The ills effects of smoking are only too well known, but nevertheless here they are: What is well known is that smoking causes 84% of deaths from lung cancer and 83% of deaths from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Smoking damages your heart, increasing the risk of conditions such as coronary heart disease, heart attack and stroke. Smokers have an increased chance of getting stomach cancer, ulcers and kidney cancer. Smoking/tobacco chewing causes cancer of the mouth and throat. Smoking causes male impotence and for women it can cause infertility and cervical cancer.

The World Health Organization (WHO) under its Tobacco Free Initiative (TFI) has designated May 31 of every year as ‘World No Tobacco Day’ or WNTD.

What is World No Tobacco Day (WNTD)?

World No Tobacco Day is observed around the world every year on May 31. It is intended to encourage a 24-hour period of abstinence from all forms of tobacco consumption around the globe. The day is further intended to draw attention to the widespread prevalence of tobacco use and to the negative health effects, which currently lead to nearly six million deaths each year worldwide, including 600,000 of which is the result of non-smokers being exposed to second-hand smoke. The member states of WHO created the World No Tobacco Day in 1987.

The genesis of World No Tobacco Day lie elsewhere. It was in 1966, that a young flight attendant with American Airlines, named Patty Young, began fighting for the right to work in a tobacco-free environment; until then cigarette smoking was allowed on-board airplanes.

After a long and protracted battle between the public and the tobacco lobby in America, a legislation to ban smoking on all domestic flights permanently was introduced in the US Senate in March 1989.

This had a cascading effect worldwide, from airlines to public places, cigarette smoking is now banned.

As we celebrate World No Smoking Day, today let’s thank Patty Young who started it all and the millions of citizens from around the world who continue to fight against the evils of smoking.

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