VISAKHAPATNAM: Despite the various awareness programmes, Andhra Pradesh has the highest number of smokers in South India with new smokers being constantly added to the numbers. The percentage of smokers in the state at 14.2 per cent is around 4 per cent above the national average of 10.7 per cent, while the percentage of smokeless tobacco users in Andhra Pradesh is at 7.1.
The doctors say that smoking and tobacco chewing are the biggest causes of cancer.
The Global Adult Tobacco Survey (GATS2), which is a global standard for systematically monitoring adult tobacco use (smoking and smokeless) and tracking key tobacco control indicators in its report of 2016-17, says that in India 19 per cent of men, 2 per cent of women and overall 10.7 per cent (99.5 million) of all adults, currently smoke tobacco.
Mizoram has the highest number of smokers with 34.4 per cent smokers followed by Meghalaya (31.6 per cent), Tripura (27.7 per cent) and Arunachal Pradesh (22.7 per cent).
When it comes to southern India, Andhra Pradesh leads with 14.2 per cent of smokers, followed by Tamil Nadu (10.5 per cent), Kerala (9.3 per cent), Karnataka (8.8 per cent), Telangana (8.3 per cent) and Odisha (7 per cent). The survey is jointly done by Union Ministry of Health and World Health Organidation.
Former captain of Team India Rahul Dravid, who is popular as “The Wall” is the brand ambassador for the anti-tobacco campaign in India. But despite the intensive anti-smoking drive, smoking has not reduced in Andhra Pradesh. Some youngsters are also smoking cigarettes that contain a mixture of tobacco and cannabis says Dr Uma Raju of Greenvalley Foundation in Vizag that deals with substance-addicted patients in Vizag city.
There are very few smokers who have actually tried to quit the habit. There are many who continue the habit despite warnings from media, friends and family members, she added.
Tobacco products such as betel quid with tobacco, khaini, gutka and pan masala with tobacco chewing are the main causes of oral cancer in many parts of the state says Director of Mahatma Gandhi Cancer Hospital in Vizag, Dr V. Murali Krishna. Not only in homes but the youngsters are exposed to tobacco smoking in workplaces too and the average monthly expenditure on cigarettes is Rs 1,192. The data also says that 38.5 per cent of the smokers have made an attempt to quit tobacco. Women are not only consuming less alcohol but also smoke less than men.
“I developed the habit of smoking around a decade back, during my engineering college days to impress the girls. I tried to quit smoking but it was not possible,” says Vinay Kumar, a chain smoker....