Kanpur, May 31, 2019: More than 100 doctors, counselors, educationists and social activists participated in a seminar to mark the World Anti-Tobacco Day at Ursula Horseman Hospital (UHM) in Kanpur, Uttar Pradesh.
The speakers at the May 30 seminar highlighted the dangers of tobacco consumption. They said that consumption of tobacco in any form may be a fleeting pleasure, for which the user would have to repent at leisure.
Dr A.K. Dixit, former director of Kanpur’s J.K. Cancer Institute, said the focus of this year anti-cancer day observation was on lung health, the most common form of cancer in the world. But in India the big killer is oral cancer.
Tobacco kills 7 million annually worldwide, of which 1.5 to 1.7 million are in India.
Dixit said Kanpur, the biggest manufacturer of Paan Masala (gutka), has the dubious distinction of being the oral cancer capital of India. The reports 2,000 cases every year, of which 1,500 prove fatal.
He pointed out that government fail to crack down on tobacco products because they are a major source of revenue. Hence there was a greater need to create social awareness about the ill effects of tobacco, he added.
The doctor also said the desire for nicotine that acts as a temporary stimulus to the brain, can be countered by delaying the indulgence for sometime, by breathing exercises and physical exercise. He advocated a ban on paan masala manufacturers sponsoring sporting events.
He applauded UHM counselor Nidhi Bajpai for helping to wean away tobacco addicts with controlled use of nicotine chewing gum.
Bajpai said about 1,000 school children had participated in a painting competition depicting the dangers of tobacco consumption.
Dr M.M. Singh, another speaker, said the tobacco consumer was not just killing himself, but also his family, especially if he was the only earning member. The desire for tobacco comes from mere curiosity, or through a false sense of masculinity, a desire for social status, or a stress buster, especially during exams, he explained.
Singh also said that nicotine causes increasing dependency. It is a chemical that brings about several biological changes. Other than cancer it also aggravates a host of other diseases. It increases headaches, migraine, convulsions, paralytic stroke through blocked arteries, depression, dementia, oral cavities, fibrosis of the mouth and even effects the taste buds.
Tobacco also increases erectile dysfunction, and reduces sperm count, Singh said. Pregnant women trigger miscarriages or abnormal births if they smoke.
Tobacco use can also aggravate intestinal and liver cancer, arthritis, rheumatism, osteoporosis and kidney failure, Singh said. The surface area of lungs is equivalent to that of a lawn tennis court, but smoking reduces it to the size of a table tennis one, he added.
Kanpur was declared tobacco free city four years ago through the initiative of Roshan Jacob the then district magistrate. Several social organizations such as Kanpur Catholic Association had supported her vigorous drive against tobacco consumption in public places.
However, tobacco use returned to the city after Jacob was transferred.