Say no to TOBACCO

Representational Pic

Amidst soaring covid numbers worldwide, people have been living in panic, but smokers corner on the other hand has been abuzz with lot of self satisfying, self relieving and self gratifying moments.

The amazing overconfidence that smokers instill in themselves in dealing with any crisis by just smoking a cigarette is simply daunting and equally laughable and ridiculous.

My smoker friend hypothesized various reasons by establishing a fact that “smoking cigarette makes one immune to covid “ and even derived a first hand causal relationship between covid immunity with nicotine, a sort of ridiculous controlled trail with results best known to him. This false analogy is being circulated widely in public. It is nothing but a dangerous misinformation that needs to be busted.

The World Health Organization (WHO) issued a statement underlining the perils of smoking, and referring to “unproven claims that tobacco or nicotine could reduce the risk of Covid-19”.

Unanimous view of doctors and health researchers is that smoking is harmful for Covid-19 patients. A few recent studies have suggested various reasons about the synergism between covid, smoking and associated mortality. The latest paper, published in PLOS ONE titled “Prevalence, Severity and Mortality associated with COPD and Smoking in patients with COVID-19: A Rapid Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis found that current smokers were 1.45 times more likely to have severe complications compared to former and never smokers. Also, critically ill Covid-19 patients with COPD had a 63% risk of severe disease and a 60% risk of mortality, while critically ill patients without COPD had only a 33.4% risk of severe disease and 55% risk of mortality. Effective preventive measures are required to reduce COVID-19 risk in COPD patients and current smokers.

For years and years now, there has been concerted attempts in attracting youth towards tobacco and nicotine products, which has led to entire generation of our youth being dragged towards taking tobacco in one form or other.

This year World NO TOBACCO day 2020 globally being celebrated on 31st May is marked in response to aggressive tactics being followed by tobacco industry, and provide a stringent and committed marketing strategy to prevent growing young generation from tobacco and its usage,instill new hope and empower them in fight against BIG tobacco.

According to WHO “The World No Tobacco Day 2020 global campaign as postulated by WHO will serve to:

Debunk myths and expose manipulation tactics employed by the tobacco and related industries, particularly marketing tactics targeted at youth, including through the introduction of new and novel products, flavours and other attractive features;

Equip young people with knowledge about the tobacco and related industries’ intentions and tactics to hook current and future generations on tobacco and nicotine products; and

Empower influencers (in pop culture, on social media, in the home, or in the classroom) to protect and defend youth and catalyze change by engaging them in the fight against Big Tobacco.”

Erstwhile Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) still features among the four Indian states with the highest prevalence of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), which recorded tobacco sales worth Rs 5,530 crore over seven years to 2017-18, and has not shown any decline over the years. These figures reflect a harsh reality about widespread prevalence of smoking in our people and its sad culmination into COPD and death.

Recently released Global Adult Tobacco Survey (GATS) revealed startling figures; 23.7 percent population of Jammu and Kashmir is using tobacco products in one form or the other and Over 20.8 percent is in the grip of smoking while rest is addicted to smokeless tobacco use.These figures are gruesome because this population is mainly young and middle aged who are supposed to be in prime of their health.

The only shield that will protect young and middle aged against covid19 is active immunity of their body and smoking tobacco and nicotine products in any form will expose them to covid19, reduce their immunity and exacerbate the severity of this disease.

STATE OF HEALTH IN KASHMIR

In Kashmir the state of health sector is facing numerous burdens and infirmities that has been persistent over the years and it has been neglected.

we got long list of health dispensing centers including 85 CHCs ,375 PHCs ,1975 SCs 346 MACs for public health but lack of technical support,manpower and specialized doctors have crippled them to no function.

poor connectivity and virtual isolation of our health centre’s that feature in remotest areas of valley due to lack of road connectivity ,emergency ambulatory support,dismal network connectivity and infamous road barricades by army and security agencies across all state is an impediment that has been persistent.

No concept of oral and maxillo facial units in any district hospitals who are first responders of any road traffic accident and also best counselors in tobacco cessation.

Free availability of tobacco and its products to young generation,poor implementation of COTPA cigarette and other tobacco act 2003, absence of tobacco control cells in districts.

All this has turned a menace into an impending disaster.

A well known fact is that tobacco and its use is started primarily in adolescence, as a matter of fact nearly 9 out of 10 cigarette smokers try by age of 18 and 98`% by age of 26. This is not just serious but a harsh reality that is silently being neglected by parents, civil society and administration. As a result we face more deaths because of oral cancer in young middle aged people than of any other disease.

Tahir Ahmad is a Oral And Maxillo Facial Surgeon