The 2nd of October, 2008 marked the introduction of a nationwide ban on smoking in public. Smoking is now banned in all public places such as offices, shopping malls, restaurants, bars, railway stations, airport lounges, banquet halls, canteens, and coffee houses all over India. Anyone caught smoking in a public place is now liable to a fine of Rs. 200.
Although many people, especially smokers, have termed this ban to be draconian, it is actually a small step in the right direction for a country where the sales of tobacco products have steadily been on the increase. Many other countries, including Ireland and France, that have historically been smoker-friendly have established similar bans on smoking in public places. What remains to be seen is whether the ban will actually have a positive effect in reducing the incidence of smoking.
The rationale behind this ban is simple enough. Although you can smoke with impunity in the streets, smoking in enclosed public spaces subjects all non-smokers to the harmful effects of second-hand smoke. So, for the smoker, the only option is to either smoke at home or step out into the street. Hopefully, this inconvenience will prompt smokers to seriously consider kicking the habit.
Another effect that the ban has had is that it has brought to the fore the detrimental effects that smoking has on health. Smoking accounts for close to a million deaths in India every year, in the form of various smoking related diseases.
Need a reason to quit? There are many!
Everyone is aware of the fact that smoking kills. It can lead to cancers of the mouth, throat, lungs, stomach, and bladder, raise blood pressure, and increase the occurrence of heart disease. However, in spite of all the dangers associated with smoking, many smokers seem to adopt an ostrich-like attitude and ignore the harm that they are causing to their own body. Part of this is precipitated by the fact that most people prefer to believe that such serious ailments will not happen to them; they will cite the examples of a favourite uncle who smoked incessantly yet lived to the ripe old age of ninety.
What most people don’t realise is that smoking not only increases your chances of contracting a major ailment but also adversely affects your lifestyle and appearance.
Compare a thirty-year-old smoker with a non-smoker of the same age. It is easy to identify the person who starts to pant and wheeze after climbing three flights of stairs as the smoker. Smoking reduces your stamina and capacity to work. Over years of smoking, the harmful chemicals and tar in cigarette smoke slowly coat the lungs and reduce its capacity to absorb oxygen.
If you smoke twenty cigarettes a day, in one year, you can accumulate a cupful of tar on your lungs. When the lungs are unable to absorb oxygen properly, they are unable to oxygenate the blood. Therefore, all the cells of your body are forced to endure a forced deprivation of oxygen that slowly increases over the years. Smoking also causes deposits to line the blood vessels, so the heart has to pump twice as hard to supply the body. All this is characterized in the form of loss of stamina and energy.