Nicotine addiction is the second leading cause of death worldwide and the leading cause of preventable death.
Tobacco use kills around 6 million people a year globally. In case of India there are nearly 275 million tobacco users and close to 1 million deaths every year due to its direct or indirect use.
Many people who chew tobacco think its safer than smoking. But you don’t have to smoke tobacco for it to be dangerous.
What is Smokeless Tobacco?
Smokeless tobacco is a tobacco or a tobacco product that is used by means other than smoking. These uses include chewing, sniffing, placing the product between teeth and gums or application to the skin. All smokeless tobacco products contain nicotine which is highly addictive. Quitting smokeless tobacco use is as challenging as smoking cessation.
Smokeless tobacco chewing is very common amongst the Indian woman.
Recent research shows the dangers of smokeless tobacco may go beyond the mouth
Major health effects of smokeless tobacco includes,
- Tobacco chewing posses great risks for the development of oral cancers(cancer of the cheek, gums, lips, tongue)
- It can also cause gum diseases, leukoplakia (whitish patches inside the mouth that can be cancerous, tooth decay, tooth staining and tooth loss)
- It is the leading cause for respiratory diseases, tuberculosis
- Substances in snuff and chewing tobacco and their additives which includes sugar can adversely affect diabetic patients.
- Possible increase in risk of heart disease, heart attacks and strokes
- The reproductive health of women is also affected including infertility and delay in conception. During pregnancy, tobacco intake can cause lower birth weight, still birth and increased risk of preterm delivery
- Tobacco chewing increases the risk of erectile dysfunction-inability to get or keep erection. Toxins from tobacco can also damage the genetic material in sperm, which can cause infertility or genetic defects in your children.
Is it possible to quit tobacco use in any form? The answer is YES.
S – set a quit date
T– tell family and friends that you plan to quit
A – anticipate and plan for the challenges. Accept withdrawal symptoms.
R – remove tobacco products from your home, car and at work
T – talk to your dentist about help to quit.
Successful quitting is a matter of planning and commitment, not luck. Decide now on your own plan. Some options include joining a tobacco cessation centre, using nicotine replacement or other medicines, using self help materials such as books and pamphlets.