Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Smoke Free Zone

May 31 is marked in calendars across the world as World No Tobacco Day. Tobacco, one of the leading causes of deaths worldwide, is more harmful than one can imagine. Join me in spreading the awareness and saying no to tobacco.

Following are comments by Dr Thimmappa Hegde and Dr Arvind Bhateja, Consultant Neurosurgeons, HOSMAT Hospital, Bangalore.

Hard to quit?
Mark Twain said, "Quitting smoking is easy. I've done it a thousand times."
Maybe you've tried to quit too. Why is quitting and staying quit hard for so many people? The answer is nicotine. Nicotine is a drug found naturally in tobacco. It is highly addictive - as addictive as heroin and cocaine. Over time, the body becomes physically and psychologically dependent on nicotine. Nicotine produces pleasurable feelings that make the smoker want to smoke more. It also acts as a depressant by interfering with the flow of information between nerve cells. After a while, the smoker develops a tolerance to the drug, which leads to an increase in smoking over time. When smokers try to cut back or quit, the absence of nicotine leads to withdrawal symptoms. Withdrawal is both physical and psychological. Physically, the body is reacting to the absence of nicotine. Psychologically, the smoker is faced with giving up a habit, which is a major change in behavior. Both must be dealt with if quitting is to be successful.

Why Quit?

Your health: Smoking increases the risk of lung diseases such as emphysema and chronic bronchitis. Smokers are twice as likely to die from heart attacks as are nonsmokers.

Cost: Smoking is expensive. The economic costs of smoking are estimated to be about Rs 200,000 per smoker per year.

Social acceptance and health of others

Setting an example for others and children

How to Quit?

..By Setting a 'Quit' date and deciding on a plan Once you've made a decision to quit, you're ready to pick a quit date. This is a very important step. Pick a specific day within the next month as your 'Quit Day'. Picking a date too far in the future allows you time to rationalize and change your mind. But do give yourself enough time to prepare and come up with a plan. You might choose a date that has a special meaning like a birthday or anniversary, or simply pick a random date. Circle the date on your calendar. Make a strong, personal commitment to quit on that day.There is no one right way to quit. Most tobacco users prefer to quit "cold turkey" - that is, abruptly and totally. They use tobacco until their Quit Day and then stop all at once, or they may cut down on tobacco for a week or 2 before their Quit Day. Another way involves cutting down on the number of times tobacco is used each day. With this method, you gradually reduce the amount of nicotine in your body.

While it sounds logical to cut down in order to quit gradually, in practice this method is difficult. Quitting tobacco is a lot like losing weight; it takes a strong commitment over a long period of time. Users may wish there was a magic bullet - a pill or method that would make quitting painless and easy. But that is not the case. Nicotine substitutes can help reduce withdrawal, but they are most effective when used as part of a stop tobacco use plan that addresses both the physical and psychological components of quitting.

(Information Sourced from Wipro's Intranet Site)

Kudos to the Govt. for having made mandatory today (under the Tobacco Control Act) the display of a scroll with a health warning when programmes containing smoking scenes or showing use of other forms of tobacco are aired in cinema. Certainly goes a step ahead in plugging one of the many loopholes.

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