As you might be aware already, tobacco use is found to be one of the major causes of deaths around the world. To better understand the impact, let me give you some statistical reports here. Trust me; tobacco use has killed over 100 million during the twentieth century. This way, this has accounted for mortality much more than all deaths reported during the World Wars I and II. It has been predicted by experts that the tobacco-related deaths will conquer the first spot by being the cause of around one billion deaths during the twenty-first century. Let’s see more about this subject matter here…
What WHO says about Tobacco Use and Mortality?
A recent report from WHO says, globally, 12% of all deaths that are occurring among adults over 30 years old are attributed to the use of tobacco. The statistical report further explains that during the year 2004, around five million adults of age 30 years and above died due to the direct use of tobacco across the globe. Here, the direct use represents both smoking, as well as smokeless tobacco use. By this, it means that at least one death has been reported every 6 seconds.
Which region do you think that is highly affected? Well, for some of you, it won’t be surprising to know that the most affected regions are the Americas and the Europe. In these parts of the world, tobacco is being used for a longer duration.
So, which gender is more affected by tobacco? Here, without any doubt, the proportion of mortality due to tobacco is found to be higher among males when compared to females.
Data on Diseases due to Tobacco:
While 12% of all deaths among adults are known to be due to tobacco, around 5% of all deaths due to communicable diseases are also attributed to tobacco. On the other end of the spectrum, 14% of all deaths due to non-communicable diseases are also attributed to tobacco. Within the category of communicable diseases, the top spots were captured by deadly tuberculosis and the common lower respiratory infections. As such, 7% of all deaths caused by tuberculosis and 12% of all deaths caused by the lower respiratory infections are attributed to tobacco.
On the other hand, in the category of non-communicable diseases, the top spots are captured by the very common cardiovascular diseases, cancers, and the diseases of the respiratory system. Thus, 10% of all deaths due to cardiovascular diseases, 22% of all deaths due to cancers, and 36% of all deaths due to the diseases of the respiratory system are attributed to tobacco.
Everyone knows that the tobacco smokers are at high risk of contracting lung cancer. Yes, you are right! But, I am sure that the real statistics will be shocking to you. Almost 71% of all the deaths due to lung cancer are attributed to tobacco use. Another common disease that is found to be contracted by the tobacco users is “Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease” or what you call it as “COPD”. As much as 42% of all deaths due to COPD are attributed to tobacco.
And, it’s to be noted that these deaths due to tobacco-related cardiovascular diseases are more likely to occur among the younger adults. As such, 38% of the deaths of the adults aged 30 to 44 years who died due to ischemic heart disease are attributed to tobacco.
Current Status of Tobacco Use in India:
While the Americas and the Europe are said by majorly affected by tobacco prevalence, we all know that use of tobacco in India is not negligible. It’s a matter of worry in our country too. However, we have some good news here. The tobacco use in India has found to be decreased from 34.6% to 28.6% among adults. You might be thinking that just six percent is not a good improvement. But, in a country with huge population, this percentage matters. This six percent difference is accounting for almost 81 lakh cases in India.
Not only among adults but also the use of tobacco has decreased among the younger population (15 to 24 years) too. In this population, the tobacco use has been decreased from 18.4% to 12.4%.
But, this is not enough!
Although the decrease in the number of tobacco users is good, I would say this is not enough. It’s to be noted that the tobacco use is putting a major public health in our country at present. Around 275 million adults are currently consuming tobacco as various products. Remember, India is the second largest tobacco consumer in the world. A report shows that 2 out of 5 adults in rural areas and 1 out of 4 adults in urban areas are using tobacco in some form. So, the challenge posed by tobacco is not simple.
Challenges vs. Opportunities in India:
India is found to be a major stakeholder in the international control efforts and is found to have played a leadership role on various forums when it comes to tobacco control. The Government of India has taken several initiatives to control tobacco use in the country. These include various laws and incorporation of the “National Tobacco Control Program”. It has been seen that the government of India has always been ready to face the challenges posed by the higher prevalence of tobacco use in the country.
We could see that the major challenge lies for the control of tobacco lies in the aspect of tobacco taxation. I would say this area needs immediate attention. It’s to be noted that taxation as an instrument for price policy is very low in the country. Moreover, even this low level of taxes is not collected effectively for the tobacco products except for cigarettes. This makes tobacco products less expensive and easily affordable by the people. So, the best way to control tobacco use will be to raise the taxes for tobacco products in addition to the strict laws that are already in place.
But, this doesn’t mean that the use of tobacco can be completely stopped. Unless the people themselves realize the ill effects that are caused by tobacco use, this problem cannot be solved. The educated population should take the responsibility of educating the negative effects of tobacco to the illiterates. This way, we can achieve a tobacco-free environment sooner!

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