Smoking reminds me of Kurt Cobain, who said “It is better to burn out than to fade away.” At one time, this statement from the Nirvana legend became quite a fad. People, especially the younger generation took this as a life lesson in its literary sense. For them, smoking became a fashion from a fad; a way of worshipping their idol to being an addiction.
A horrifying example of this is Debi Austin, the face of anti-tobacco commercials. Debi died in 2013, after battling chronic health issues, including cancer, and a hole in her throat, due to a tumor in the larynx. Debi started smoking at the age of 13 and before she could give up, she smoked three packs in a day. One day, her 4–year old niece drew a black hole in her throat and said that she wanted to be like Debi. That was the point of consciousness when Debi decided to preach the message of ‘smoking kills and it isn’t cool’, especially among the youth.
Over the years, people have grown increasingly conscious about the damaging effects of smoking. A survey in 2015, revealed that there was a 10% dip in smoking in India over the last 2 years. The production has also gone down. But another shocking revelation was that the number of male smokers has decreased, while the number of female smokers has increased. Well, this is a completely different topic of discussion, but maybe, there is a section of the society, who still wants to blow a puff or two to be tagged as ‘cool’.
People might still be flaunting a Kurt Cobain or a John Lennon T-shirt with a cigarette, but they no longer go by the habits of these legends. With the widespread awareness about the dangers of smoking, terrifying images on cigarette packs, alarming death rates, and heavy taxes on tobacco, smoking has been confined to a smaller section of people, who are either heavily addicted or still looking for the right reasons to give up.
According to statistics, smoking causes 90% of lung cancer deaths in men and 80% in women. It reduces the life expectancy of smokers by 13-14 years than non-smokers. Tobacco causes more deaths than HIV, drugs, alcohol, etc. But, in a country like India, smoking is not the only evil. Here, cigarette smoking is just 11% of tobacco consumption as compared to 90% in the world. The major threats are chewing tobacco, followed by bidis, both by men and women.
So, you can understand that in India, ‘smoking isn’t cool anymore’ is not enough to eliminate the evils of tobacco; smokeless tobacco is a bigger demon. Though, we have come a long way by penalizing public smoking, and citizens abiding by it, we still have a longer way to go before we can actually celebrate a ‘No Tobacco Day’.
If you are still ready to ‘burn out’ with a ‘cool tag’, consider ‘responsible vaping’ instead of ‘smoking’ to mark the essence of the day.
Image Courtesy: https://s3-eu-west-1.amazonaws.com/plannify-images/img/event/4066115/world_no_tobacco_day-1457815157.jpg
This blog post is for a contest for the #WorldNoTobaccoDay, organized by KolkataBloggers in association with MANT.