Every year 31st May is marked as world anti-smoking day. In our Kashmir valley the day was commemorated at school, college and university level with great fervor but this time due to global Covid-19 crisis, the day is observed with lesser impact. The day would otherwise, all around, go with the debates, seminars, symposia and rallies of school children carrying out placards shouting anti-smoking slogans but this time such activities are unlikely as all of us are staying inside avoiding jumbling because of pandemic that has stalled the whole world.
However, the doors of print and electronic media never remain closed for those who want to contribute something to the society at large-one way or the other. One can as such actively participate, and may speak eloquently though newspaper, journal, radio or television to reach out to a vast population of people.
The day is observed to generate awareness among masses about the lethal and ill-effects of tobacco smoking which is as dangerous to one’s health as coronavirus. The day should bring change and if it doesn’t bring any then remember that our efforts have gone waste. We can promise to quit smoking today provided we stand committed and are determined.
Writing and speaking fervently to condemn smoking is not a sin but writing with a cigarette within the lips, and speaking to a wider audience (forbidden this time) with a pack of cigarettes in the pocket below, certainly is.
However, both the approaches have become a trend in Kashmir now. Have we ever collected all the cigarette packets on an occasion of anti-tobacco jamboree and set them to fire in front of everyone and ardently pledged not to smoke ahead. No, that seems a task bit difficult. Take pledge today, never to smoke again. Thus, we quit smoking and observe the day in its real spirit.
Quite often we have seen that we don’t leave the dais for an hour at least in a programme on anti-smoking because we have so much to say on smoking to the audience but gosh, what we speak is for others not for ourselves as they say in Kashmiri Mal Tchhe Paran Lukah Waz! (A cleric preaches for other not to himself).
Doling sermons is all a wasteful exercise unless we first stop smoking at our own level. How can a Peer (Cleric) expect something desired from his Mureed (disciple) when he is himself involved in some harmful activity.
Similarly, how can teachers or lectures expect desired results from their students after this day when they themselves are chain smokers (or unable to quit smoking)? It is easier said than done. The reason why doesn’t the percentage of smokers decline in Kashmir is quite evident that our preaching is not for us but for others. Anyway, let me now statistically shed light on the scenario of smoking in Kashmir valley in below paragraphs.
My dear readers, the cigarette use in the state is 12% while in India it stands at 5.7%. Kashmir Valley consumes 19 crore cigarettes a month and is fast earning the dubious distinction of becoming the smoking capital of the sub-continent. The smokers splurge a whopping Rs 1000 crore annually on purchasing cigarettes and tobacco.
Jammu and Kashmir imports 260 million cigarette sticks monthly apart from the crude tobacco products. Out of this, 190 million cigarette sticks are consumed by the Kashmir region while Jammu smokes 70 million cigarette sticks. A total of Rs 1000 crore is annually spent on smoking tobacco in Kashmir.
There are two major companies Godfrey Philips and Indian Tobacco Company (ITC) exporting cigarettes to Jammu and Kashmir. The former has an annual turnover of around 450 crore while the later has 350 crore in the state. The rest 300 crore is generated from crude tobacco products like Tambaku, Bidi, and Cigars, etc. Global Adult Tobacco Survey (GATS) has tallied that around 26.6% population of Jammu and Kashmir is using tobacco products in one way or the other. It points out that Kashmir has 12% cigarette smokers, 3.8% bidi smokers and 8.0% smokeless tobacco users.
It is seen that the habit of puffing cigarettes is more in youth than in any age group. In 2012, a survey was conducted in colleges regarding students addicted to smoking by the health department of Kashmir in which it was found that 5.9% female and 30% male students were involved in smoking.
It has been found that 30 percent patients with respiratory problems are directly or indirectly affected by smoking. Cigarette or hookah smoking causes allergy, bronchitis, high blood pressure and, brain hemorrhage, heart attacks, pulmonary diseases and cancer. And in Kashmir majority of the deaths take due to these diseases.
According to the survey, fifteen lakh people are likely to get cancer because of tobacco in Kashmir and currently J&K State/UT has been found as the lung cancer capital of India. Psychiatrists are of the opinion that the tobacco is the commonest drug abuse prevailing in J&K. It has all features of drugs. It increases dependence, it causes cravings, users find a momentarily escape, you can’t stop using it, you temporarily feel relief but in the long run the consequences are very fatalistic.
The prime reason for increased use of tobacco in Kashmir is its social acceptance.
The tobacco use by the people in Kashmir is done to allay stress and traumatic times unlike west where alcohol is used for the same purpose.
In Kashmir hookah smoking is still unavoidable. People in rural areas mostly in mountainous regions particularly from age bar 40-50 use hookah (hubble-bubble).They believe it a dose to digest their food. They enjoy jajeer (hookah) smoking during conversations, discussion, bargains, etc. It is seen the ratio of male hookah smokers compared to female smokers is more in villages.
In towns and in Srinagar city due education the percentage of hookah smokers is day by day decreasing except some boatmen because the hookah smoking has now got converted into cigarette smoking.
Tips to quit smoking
It is very easy to kick the habit of smoking by using the tips as follows: Get enough rest. With a good night’s sleep you are more likely to feel fresh and alert. Exercise regularly it will raise your over all energy level, so you may less need for a boost.
Take a brisk walk instead of smoking if you start feeling sluggish. Moving around is a drug free stimulant. Eat regularly nutritious meals because healthful foods are a great source of energy. Drink lots of water. It will refresh you as it helps clear your body of nicotine.
Avoid getting bored which can make you feel tired. Read a book or keep yourself busy watching television. Keep your mind active perhaps by calling a friend or playing a game.
In order to bring a positive change in the society from this no tobacco day onwards, let’s quit smoking which not only affects our health but also our economy? Let, all of us play their role in combating this evil habit which causes a slow but painful death due to nicotine, a poisonous substance, in tobacco.