How well do you know what tobacco does to you and your loved ones? #WorldNoTobaccoDay

Dr Roshan Radhakrishnan
We all frown over cigarette smoking. And yes, we know friends and family who do smoke or take tobacco. But here's the thing - besides knowing that it causes lung cancer, what do you really know? When you want to convince someone to stop smoking, should you not know the facts and numbers first about tobacco? 

May 31 is World No Tobacco Day. 

On this occasion, I thought I would help by asking a few questions related to tobacco. Answer them in your mind and then see if you got the answers right below.

How well do you know what tobacco does to you and your loved ones? #WorldNoTobaccoDay

Q 1. How many people around the world die because of tobacco EVERY YEAR?
a) 2 million (~ population of Kochi)
b) 7 million (~ population of Ahmedabad)
c) 14 million (~ population of Kolkata)

Q 2. In India, which form of tobacco intake is most common?
a) Smoking (cigarettes, bidis)
b) Non-smoking (tobacco chewing)

Q 3. Estimated percentage of adults in India who take tobacco in some form?
a) 15 %
b) 25 %
c) 35 %
d) 45 %

Q 4. What does a cigarette have in common with these items?
Rat poison, battery acid, embalming fluid, Household cleaner, batteries, moth balls, road construction, rocket fuel.

Q 5. 'Non-cigarette' tobacco products in India - how many can you name? (Count them in your head now!)
a) 0-5
b) 5- 10
c) 10+ (are there even 10+ methods?!)

Q 6. Tobacco intake is linked with which three out of these ten cancers?
a) Lung
b) Leukemia
c) Stomach
d) Throat
e) Kidney
f) Colon
g) Pancreas
h) Urinary Bladder
i) Cervix
j) Mouth

Q 7. Can smoking cause blindness?
a) No co-relation to the eye. Smoking damages from the mouth downwards.
b) Smoking can cause blindness.

Q 8. I don't smoke but my spouse/co-worker does around me. What is the worst that could happen to me?

Q 9. Can second hand smoking kill an infant in a room?
a) No.
b) Maybe if you blow the smoke directly at the infant?
c) Seems like a 'yes' kind of question so I will say 'Yes'
Q 10. What is 'green tobacco sickness'? Which group is most affected by it?
a) Eco-friendly cigarettes that cause sickness?
b) Vegetarian cigarettes that cause sickness?
c) This is an 'out of syllabus' question! I want grace marks for this question!


01. 7 million people die every year from smoking of which 8,90,000 die because of second hand smoke. To put that in perspective, a population larger than that of the entire city of Ahmedabad is lost every year; And the entire city of Mysore died just because of second hand smoke. EVERY YEAR. 

02. Did you guess smoking? You are wrong! And by quite a margin! Out of 27 crore tobacco users, 16 crore use non-smoking methods only while 7 smoke. The remaining 4 crore do both.

03. 35 % of adults use tobacco in India. 

04. A cigarette does not just contain tobacco. Among the other ingredients, it also contains:
  • Ammonia (household cleaner)
  • Arsenic (rat poison)
  • Cadmium (battery acid)
  • Formaldehyde (embalming fluid)
  • Lead (batteries)
  • Naphthalene (moth balls)
  • Methanol (rocket fuel)
  • Tar (road construction)
  • Butane (Lighter fluid)
In short, lots of fun stuff that you should "definitely be putting in your body (NOT!!)"

05. How many did you know? Well, here is the list of 18 I found - beedi, hookah, cigar, chutta, dhumti, chillum, pipe, cheroot, betel with tobacco, khaini, gutkha, paan masala, mishri, mawa, gul, bajjar, gudakhu, snuff.

06. I lied. Tobacco is linked to cancers of all the ten organs in that question, not just three.

07. Smokers double their odds of getting a cataract. That is still better than the three-fold odds increase of age-related macular degeneration affecting the retina. Worse? Women smoking during pregnancy can actually result in blindness of the child.

08. Let's see. Your risk for a stroke increases by 20-30%. So does your risk for a heart attack, of course. Same 20-30% rule applies to lung cancer. I quote from the CDC - "Even brief secondhand smoke exposure can damage cells in ways that set the cancer process in motion." Children around second hand smoke are more prone for respiratory illness and asthma attacks. They also get more prone for ear infections and require surgeries of the ear for drainage of fluid.

09. Sadly, yes. Second hand smoking has been linked to sudden infant death syndrome for decades.

10. Green tobacco sickness occurs in children from low-income families where the children are employed in farming tobacco. Nicotine is absorbed through the skin from the wet tobacco leaves.

How well do you know what tobacco does to you and your loved ones? #WorldNoTobaccoDay

Smoking Kills. But you already knew that.
The question is, do you want to kill just yourself slowly or everyone you love as well?
Choose wisely.Say No to Tobacco. 
Giving it up may not be easy but with the help of friends and loved ones, you will succeed. 
And it will be worth it.

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Let me know what you think.

  1. That is one wake up call!! So much destruction is caused by smoking and tobacco yet people refuse to stop smoking. Sad.....

  2. Smoking killed my mother when I was 12. That was in 1965. So sad that the habit persists throughout our world.

  3. True. We all know smoking kills. But your post shares many unknown facts.

  4. Good Lord, although we have an idea of how damaging smoking cigarettes or tobacco is for the smoker as well as the passive ones, the facts are hard-hitting.

    We can only hope better sense prevails and we are able to wipe out this malicious habit in the coming decades.

  5. I knew that smoking kills, but I didn't know some of these facts! The long term impact on a smoker and their family isn't worth the lure of tobacco.

  6. So much valuable information here, doc. I have seen that all my househelps chew tobacco. It is quite a menace. A house help of my mil lost her husband due to oral cancer recently. It is such a tragedy.

  7. These facts are scary and if those you consume tobacco are reading this, they need to stop. Just give up!

  8. This was informative. Not reading this post is no reason to continue smoking. My father was a chain smoker. He later stopped smoking. But 6 years ago he died of cancer in kidney. It was diagnosed only at the last stage, so there wasn't much to do. I didn't know that smoking could cause cancer to so many organs. I see moms pushing stroller with infants, sometimes babies as young as two months old, with a cigarette between their fingers and smoke coming out of their mouth and nose. Always hurts me. What can we do!

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