Studies have shown us that a combination of biology, psychology and social cues makes it so. Nicotine the miscreant implicated in tobacco acts on nicotinic and acetylcholine receptors as well as modulating the Dopamine and Glutamate release making it an internally driven vicious cycle which progresses to addiction very rapidly. To add to this it seems to lessen anxiety and improve concentration. Peer pressure, association with coolness, vicious ad campaigns and easy availability serve as a constant reminder ; testing even the most determined person.

Tobacco affects not only your lungs but almost your entire body. It has been blamed in cardio vascular diseases, chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder, cancers, low birth weight babies & perinatal complications, etc. It is also known to exacerbate many more diseases like G.E.R.D , ulcers, etc. In your mind it produces a dependence so strong that even missing a single ‘dose’ precipitates a withdrawal syndrome which causes restlessness , irritability , anxiety , insomnia , weight gain , depressed mood and concentration difficulties . One of the ‘Gateway’ drugs; it also may pave the way for more addictive and dangerous drugs.

Passive smoking is perhaps even more harmful; causing collateral damage to children, partners, friends and family.

Tobacco can be consumed as a paste, smoked through bidi and cigarettes or taken along with ‘paan’. It is important to remember that the cumulative effect of all these forms has essentially the same harmful effect on your body. An estimated 1.2 billion people in the world are smokers with smoking implicated in approximately 5 million deaths per year.

On the occasion of ‘World No Tobacco Day’ here are a few tips on how you can tackle this evil:

1. Decide: Taking a conscious decision to quit is probably the most important and crucial step to quitting Tobacco. You could choose to stop consumption immediately or do it by setting a fixed quit date. Complete cessation or gradual reduction is also an option you can contemplate.

2. Ask for help: Help is available to those who ask for it. Experts can guide you through the various options available and decide on the treatment modality best suited for you.

3. Behaviour modification: This forms the mainstay of treatment. Some of the techniques used may include buying only one cigarette at a time , changing to a brand which contains less amount of nicotine , avoid taking Tobacco in public places , identifying triggers for consumption and ways to avoid them ,etc.

If the craving for Tobacco increases one can try chewing clove/ lavang to reduce it. Actively avoid trying to combine Tobacco consumption with daily activities like drinking tea. You can even consider altering the route of your daily commute to a path with the least number of tobacco vendors.

Exercising will keep you energetic and also prevent weight gain which is a major source of worry.

4. Medical interventions: Based on your clinical profile and requirements a suitable medicine can be agreed upon with the help of a doctor. You could also avail of Nicotine replacement therapy; tried preferably under supervision via the use of Nicotine gums, lozenge or transdermal patches; some of which are even available over the counter.

So this 31st of May let’s make a proactive effort for our sake and also for our near and dear ones and let’s say NO to TOBACCO!!!

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