Help ! I am confused about tobacco use…

Q1. I feel that ‘tobacco kills’ is a hyped statement- What is the truth in it?

Answer: If it were not true why would tobacco companies agree to write on their own products that ‘tobacco kills’? We feel it to be a hype because through people enjoy smoking in front of us, they die outside our field of vision in hospitals. Also, we know just about cancers. But tobacco kills a lot of people by leading to TB, various lung diseases, heart attacks and strokes also. As per data compiled by WHO based on scientific studies, worldwide tobacco kills 50,00,000 people every year i.e. 1 death every 6 seconds! To understand better the impact of taking alcohol or tobacco, do check out the video on YouTube titled ‘Poisons we love’

Q2 I am proud of the fact that I don’t smoke.But my friends do- when I am around them. Is it really any problem for me?

Answer: Studies have found passive smoking also to be a group A carcinogen; and hence public smoking is banned throughout the world. Out of the 10 lakh people who die in India each year due to tobacco, 10% i.e. 1 lakh people are innocent family members & friends of smokers, who die due to passive smoking. So definitely, one must request friends to not smoke near him or in their common room. And still better would be to request them also to quit it, expressing your concern for their health too. They can take help from any psychiatrist or counsellor or call government QuitLine 1800-11-2356.

Q 3. Is chewing tobacco /using any other smokeless tobacco product safe?

Answer: Whether taken through lungs or mouth, a poison remains a poison JInfact India has become the oral cancer capital of the world because of its love for oral tobacco &supari, both of which are carcinogenic. Because gutkha& pan masala brands are promoted by some irresponsible celebrities, some people believe that they are safer. However, a study done at NIN, Hyderabad showed that betel quid chewers developed sub-mucous fibrosis after an average duration of 8.6 years; while gutkha or pan masala users developed it after just 2.7 years! Hence, the safest and smartest thing is to cultivate healthy recreational habits, which would make you happy now as well as in the long run! Jai Hind.


(You can send in your other doubts too and I would love to read the experiences you have had/witnessed with regards to alcohol/ tobacco/ cannabis.

Expert for the month:

Dr. Dharav Shah,DPM, MD

Consultant Psychiatrist, Parivartan trust