World No Tobacco Day: How Cigarettes, Bidis & Hookahs Affect the Body

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World No Tobacco Day: How Cigarettes, Bidis & Hookahs Affect the Body

Tobacco kills more than 8 million people, globally, and over 1 million in India every year, according to the World Health Organisation. Tobacco can be consumed in various forms such as cigarettes, bidis, cigars and hookah, among others. It is a risk factor for many fatal diseases including cancers, chronic respiratory diseases, diabetes and ischemic heart diseases (disease of the blood vessels of the heart).

Tobacco contains many chemical substances such as nicotine, carbon monoxide and tar and potential carcinogen like Benzopyrene, Nitrosamine. These chemicals are mainly in the particulate and gaseous phase.

On World No Tobacco Day, here is the list of damages that are caused by five common forms of tobacco consumption:


CVDs: Cigarette smoking harms almost every organ, causing diseases and is one of the leading causes of preventable deaths. Smokers are at an increased risk of cardiovascular diseases that affect the heart and its blood vessels. Smoking damages the blood vessels and can make them narrower, leading to the heart beating fast and rise in blood pressure. Smoking can also cause hindrances in the flow of blood to the brain, resulting in stroke.

Bidis are available in the form of hand rolled-tobacco and produce more than 3 times Carbon Monoxide and 5 times more than tar as compared to regular cigarettes. Bidi smoking increases the risk for oral cancer, lung cancer, stomach cancer, and esophageal cancer apart from increasing the risk of heart attacks and coronary heart disease by three-fold. Bidis also increase the risk of emphysema (lung disease causing shortness of breath) and chronic bronchitis by up to four ..


While it is a common misconception that cigar smoking is less harmful than cigarette smoking, this is not true. The cigar smoke breaks down into the saliva making the smoker easily absorb the harmful nicotine through the lining of the mouth, even if smoke is not inhaled. Regular cigar smoking is associated with an increased risk of cancers of the lung, oesophagus, voice box, and oral cavity. Smoking cigars may also lead to early tooth loss and erectile dysfunction apa ..


This form of tobacco consumption is often perceived as safer than cigarettes or smoked tobacco products. However, chewing tobacco is a risk factor for the development of oral cancers and precancers (abnormal cells which have undergone some changes and can become cancerous). Other health risks of chewing tobacco include cardiovascular diseases, gum disease, tooth decay and loss.


Hookah smoking is not a safe alternative to cigarette smoking as considered by many. Using it to smoke tobacco can cause serious health risks. While smoking it, one inhales nicotine and other chemicals from tobacco, as well as chemicals from the fruit flavourings in which it is commonly available. Hookah smoking also involves the burning of coal which produces fumes and chemicals. Smoke from the tobacco in hookah can cause lung, bladder, and oral cancers while the charcoal gives rise to cancer-causing chemicals. Apart from this, smoking hookah can lead to decreased lung function and reduced fertility.

Any form of consumption of tobacco is extremely harmful for the body and the ill-effects do not just affect specific organs but the entire body. While many overlook the harmful effects, it is advisable to refrain consuming tobacco in any form to lead a healthy and happy life.


Source: The Economic Times