Chennai: The ban on smoking in public places has not deterred teenagers from getting hooked on to tobacco, city oncologists said. But the addiction to tobacco and related products by teenagers and adults is taking a heavy toll on their health, they said. “Tobacco related cancer is on the rise. Despite the ban on smoking in public places, availability of cigarettes or tobacco related products is causing alarming diseases,” said Dr Sankar Srinivasan, Consultant Medical Oncologist, Apollo Specialty Hospital, here.
“By the time the smokers turn 35 or 40 years old they end up with cancer. Tobacco consumption not only leads to cancer but also induces heart attack or leads to renal diseases. I see many patients of young age come with oral or lung cancer due to smoking,” said Dr S. Rajasundaram, Surgical Oncologist, SIMS. About two lakh people in India and over 60 lakh people across the world are afflicted with mouth or oral cancer, the most common of cancers, and over 50 per cent of them die, he said.
“There is no hope of curing those who come in advanced stage of cancer,” said Dr Srinivasan. Arguing for educating people on the bane of tobacco consumption, he said the only way to prevent people from getting tobacco related cancer is to motivate them to quit smoking and urge them not to consume tobacco in any form. “It is something like drug addiction. One has to be weaned away from this habit. And the use of electronic cigarettes is not recommended,” he said.
Oncologists dealing with such cancer patients rigidly follow 5 As: Ask (about the form of tobacco consumption, quantity and health aspects) Advise, Assess (health condition before treating), Assist (in coming out of addiction) and Arrange (for rehabilitation). “We treat them and even counsel our patients and send them to de-addiction centres. But the best thing is to avoid tobacco consumption in any form,” Dr Rajasundaram said.
‘Porous borders make tobacco smuggling easy’
Many countries in the South-East Asia region have porous borders that offer easy opportunity for smuggling of tobacco products, Dr Poonam Khetrapal Singh, Regional Director, WHO South-East Asia Region, said on the eve of World No Tobacco Day (May 31) .
All South-East Asian countries have enacted stringent laws to control tobacco consumption – both on pricing and sale of tobacco products in-country as well as against import of foreign brands. Despite these efforts the trade in smuggled tobacco products continues to thrive. Illicit trade undermines tobacco control policy efforts and facilitates increased consumption of tobacco by youth and adults from low-income groups as tobacco products are more affordable and accessible, particularly to those from low-income groups.
This trend is fuelling an epidemic of tobacco-related diseases as these products are not subject to legal restrictions and effective health regulations aimed at curbing tobacco use, such as pictorial warnings or banning sales to minors....