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Smokers display not only poorer physical health, but also mental health!

Quitting smoking is a huge challenge for most smokers in India. People make several attempts to quit smoking but have failed to give up smoking. 9 in 10 smokers have made efforts to stop smoking, but have struggled to quit even after knowing the serious health risks associated with it.

Image for representation purpose only. Image credit: boredpanda

According to the Choose Life study, smokers show hypersensitive behaviour that is 200% higher than non – smokers. Moreover, smokers get affected with mental stress that is 178% higher as compared to non-smokers, with further increase in issues such as broken and insufficient sleep, lack of motivation, overeating or undereating and anger outbursts over family or at work.

Despite knowing the serious health effects of smoking, 74% of the surveyed smokers feel that it is hard to quit smoking. Shockingly, 3 in 4 respondents smoked even if they were unwell and 8 in 10 smokers felt the urge to smoke as soon as they woke up.

The alarming concern is that more than 65% men who smoke cigarettes had high blood pressure and 4 out of 5 smokers had higher levels of carbon monoxide (CO) as compared to non-smokers. High blood pressure and elevated CO levels can have a serious impact on physical and mental health.

Another significant finding of the study shows that 91% smokers have been advised by their doctors to give up smoking, unfortunately, more than 75% smokers who had attempted to quit, took to smoking again within 3 months.

The survey indicates that quitting smoking is a monumental task and most people struggle to succeed in their efforts. It is important to note that the patterns don’t change significantly across cities. Mumbai, Delhi, Bangalore, Lucknow or Kolkata, the challenges associated with quitting smoking are still the same.

Tobacco use kills more than 900,000 people a year in India, and the World Health Organisation estimates that tobacco-related diseases cost the country about $16 billion annually*. It will be crucial to support more smokers in quitting to smoke.

“Awareness on the ill-effects of smoking is very high among smokers. While most efforts today focus on driving this awareness, it will be imperative to make a shift towards ‘helping people in their quit journey’. As we have seen, the challenges associated with quitting are manifold and there can be more that can be done to help them. I believe scientific ways to quit smoking along with adequate counselling will be critical in our efforts to reduce smoking in India” said Dr. Prashant Chhajed, a leading Pulmonologist from Fortis & Nanavati Hospital. 

According to Dr. Pralhad Prabhudesai, a leading Pulmonologist from Lilavati Hospital, “The biggest challenge is that most of the smokers are aware about the ill effects of smoking but they still choose to smoke. They feel that smoking helps them to de-stress and makes them more productive. The study however clearly indicates that is not the case and smokers do suffer from greater mental stress as compared to non-smokers.”

The survey revealed that almost 88% smokers took to the habit under the age of 24 years, and 55% of them started smoking to look cool or just for fun.

“As the study shows, smoking is a habit that starts just for fun but it becomes life threatening eventually. Smokers make several attempts to quit after that, but most find it hard to abstain. By continuing to smoke, they waste a lot of time, which also impacts work productivity. Hence this is not just an individual challenge, but also an organizational challenge and every HR department must take note of this. I also feel, that by using scientifically proven interventions, the process to quit can become easier and work productivity can improve significantly”, said Dr. Partha Pritam Bose, a leading Chest Physician, National Heart Institute & Founder SAANS – SAKSHAM

“Smoking is something that starts as a choice, but eventually becomes a compulsion. The dependency on the habit is so high that even after several attempts to quit, smokers struggle to succeed. Stress and increasing workload are often considered as triggers to smoke. Ironically, while it gives you temporary relief, the long term impact on mental and physical health could be seriously negative and every smoker must consider this while they go for their smoke breaks”, said Dr. Vasunethra Kasargod a leading Consultant Pulmonologist in Vikram Hospital.

Additional findings

  • Smokers from Mumbai (78 %) have made maximum attempts to quit smoking but were not able to quit. Most of the smokers from sample size wanted to give up smoking for their kids and wife or both.
  • 90 % smokers from Delhi have CO levels in the 11+ ppm zone, leading to increased health risks.  47 % smokers from Mumbai were found to be pre-hypertensive (BP -120-139 systolic or diastolic 80-89). 19% smokers from Bangalore tested as stage 2 hypertensive (BP – 160 or higher systolic or 100 or higher diastolic)
  • Data indicates that 47% smokers from Delhi don’t exercise at all.
  • 34% smokers from Lucknow smoked to look cool, the highest across the 5 cities.
  • Unlike 100% non-smokers, 45% of smokers fail to hold their breath for even 10 seconds.

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