Cigarette smoking had been a threat to society for a really long time. Cigarette-smoking is an addiction that has been diagnosed to be most harmful among all the other addictions including alcohol addiction, consumption of marijuana etc. However we notice cigarette smoking is a legal activity in most countries and states.
It does not face the amount of social stigma that it should, and moreover it is rampant among youngsters and degrading their health conditions. In life we are exposed to several types of addiction especially during our teen years. Drinking, smoking and other forms of addiction are examples of such elements.
Especially in our late teens, curiosity and experimentation makes us indulge in addictions and then become dependent on them. Peer pressure also comes into play in terms of falling prey to addictions. We are often subjected to the pressure of living up to all the modern trends and standards and living up to the expectations of our peers.
We are often afraid that we won’t be socially acceptable if we don’t go by herd instinct and do whatever people around us suggest us to do. Societal standards of living along with the advent of modernism is leading to an apocalypse that has is eventually going to engulf us all.
Tobacco and Nicotine addiction
By world addiction survey it has been recorded that cigarettes primarily containing tobacco and nicotine is a the most widely abused substance in the world. It causes more than 6 billion deaths every single year and is the main source of lung cancer and its increasing rates among youngsters.
Cigarettes, primarily tobacco is so addictive due to the presence of nicotine in them. Most of us are aware of the fact that dopamine is a chemical component whose secretion in our body imparts the feeling of “happiness”. Nicotine is a compound that essentially triggers the secretion of dopamine.
This is the reason why people especially after having a hard day or in stressful situations, smoke cigarettes. It gives them a temporary escape and a false sense of happiness and relief which they crave for at that time. This makes the smoker dependent on it soon and causes physical and psychological addiction.
Addiction to cigarettes is hard to let go of for most people. It requires strong will power and the need to lead a healthier life. Since most addictions affects the psychological balance of the consumer, it makes the process even more difficult and time consuming.
Once a person falls prey to tobacco addiction and smoking, he finds it difficult to quit despite several attempts made on his part.
He might even feel physically uncomfortable if stripped off his daily dose of smoking, such as irritation, shaking, nausea, or sweating and an increase in heart rate. The person resorts to cigarettes during times of stress or tension, or because of pressure at work places.
He resorts to smoking to battle emotional instability and depression. He cannot do without a smoke during office breaks and before or after every meal. Addicts even give up plans if arranged in places where smoking is not allowed, and continues to smoke cigarettes despite being told not to due to pressing health issues.
Nowadays treatments are available for tobacco addiction. NRT or Nicotine Replacement Therapy is one of the methods that helps addicts to overcome smoking. It is a small sticker-like object that can be easily stuck on to arms or neck. It helps in supplying very low levels of nicotine to the body and helps cure addiction.
Nicotine gums are also available freely in medical stores. The gum imparts small doses of nicotine that manages the cravings of smokers and allows them to strengthen their will power and not resort to smoking again. Similarly, sprays and inhalers also work to reduce addiction and dependency.
If none of the above treatments work, medication is also available to treat addicts, and doctors prescribe medications like Chantix and Wellbutrin which are common drugs to cure nicotine addiction. Moreover psychological therapies are also available such as Hypnotherapy, cognitive-behavioural therapy and neuro-linguistic therapy.
These treatments help in making the addicts realise how addiction is causing them more harm than any good and how letting go of these habits can eventually lead to betterment of their lifestyle.
Cigarette smoking over long periods of time leads to deposition of tar in our lung tissues. This tar in turn gives rise to cancerous cells. Therefore cigarette smoking causes cancer of the lungs, throat and mouth, leads to heart diseases, strokes and emphysema and bronchitis.
Cigarette smoking in public places
Earlier cigarettes were openly advertised as a consumer product in television, radio broadcasts as well as in the form of leaflets and banners just like every other consumer based product. Cricket leagues were even openly sponsored by tobacco companies.
However when a survey was conducted that lead to the conclusion that these advertisements are leading to rise in the rate of smokers, while smoking causes such fatal diseases, the Indian Tobacco Act was passed by the government of India, which permanently banned the open advertisements of tobacco based products like cigarettes and chewing tobacco, in any form and media portal.
In states in South India, like Tamil Nadu and Karnataka, as well as states like Sikkim, smoking in any public place is banned and being caught doing it is punishable by law and liable to heavy fines. In the streets of these states cigarettes are sold secretly and illegally in very rare shops, and most shops do not keep any such products at all.
The rates of these cigarettes that are sold out of legal bounds are therefore far more expensive and unaffordable for most people. Therefore people are forced to abstain from smoking and this has potentially reduced the rate of consumers and addicts drastically in these states of India.
However, in states like Mumbai, Kolkata and Delhi, only certain selective public places have been declared to be non-smoking zones, while most places are open to smokers. Most hang-out places, parks and sitting areas have shops selling cigarettes openly and legally, located within very close proximity and have a booming business.
Educational institutions, especially colleges and universities have a collection of shops located just outside the campus gates, selling cigarettes and luring students to buy cartons before entering the institution. This is especially harmful as it not only encourages addiction among youngsters and college-goers, it also deviates the students from the main purpose of joining these institutions in the first place, that is education.
Smoking should also be banned in public places since these places are open to people of all age-groups. Children often visit recreational places and find themselves surrounded by men and women indulging in cigarette smoking. This affects them psychologically and makes them question the harmfulness of such addictions.
Passive smoking also leads to health hazards like asthma and breathing problem, especially among young children who have delicate lungs. Pregnant women are adversely affected due to passive smoking as it can lead to abnormalities in the foetus.
Hence smokers should not smoke within close proximity of women who are pregnant. But this issue is often overlooked in public places and everyone breathes in the same air that gets polluted with cigarette smoke.
It is a issue that requires to be immediately looked into. In several developed countries, smoking in public places is a criminal offence. However in India, even family restaurants have smoke-zones. This is the sad reality of capitalism. In order to increase sales and lure in customers, restaurants cater to the addictive needs of customers by providing them smoking-zones so that they can enjoy a cigarette before, after or while they are having their meals.
The government should take serious actions regarding this and issue provisions to disallow consumption of cigarettes in any public place, such as malls, movie theatres, restaurants, parks and recreational centres. Cigarette is an addiction that is causing serious health hazards among men and women and the rate of its consumption has increased manifold.
Children indulge in smoking from the tender age of 15, giving in to peer pressure and trying to appear cool among friends. Through anti-smoke campaigns we can reach out to these youngsters and make them realise that nothing about addiction is trendy or cool. With the help of anti-addiction sessions held in educational institutions we can appeal to their senses and make them understand and reflect upon the hazards of cigarette smoking, to ensure a better and healthier future for them.