Smokers suffer from poor physical and mental health, but find it difficult to kick the butt despite being aware of the serious health risks, according to a study conducted in five major cities in India. Smokers are 178 per cent more likely to suffer from mental stress than non-smokers, according to the study titled ‘Choose Life’. The study was conducted among 1,000 individuals, both smokers and non-smokers, in New Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Lucknow and Bengaluru. The study showed that nine in 10 smokers have made efforts to kick the habit, but have struggled to quit even after knowing the serious health risks associated with it. Researchers found that three in four respondents smoked even if they were unwell and eight in 10 smokers felt the urge to light a cigarette as soon as they woke up. Alarmingly, more than 65 per cent men who smoke cigarettes had high blood pressure and four out of five smokers higher levels of carbon monoxide as compared to non- smokers, according to the report.
Almost 88 per cent of the smokers surveyed picked up the habit under the age of 24, and 55 per cent started smoking “to look cool” or “just for fun”, the report found. “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,” said Prashant Chhajed, a pulmonologist attached to Fortis and Nanavati Hospitals.
“Scientific ways to quit smoking, along with adequate counselling, will be critical in our efforts to reduce smoking in India,” said Chhajed. Pralhad Prabhudesai, a leading pulmonologist from Lilavati hospital, said the challenge is to make people aware that contrary to belief, smoking does not help them de-stress nor more productive. “Smokers do suffer from greater mental stress as compared to non-smokers,” said Prabhudesai.
Vasunethra Kasargod, a leading consultant pulmonologist in Vikram Hospital, said 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 impacted. Every smoker must consider this while they go for their smoke breaks,” said Kasargod. All three pulmonologists were part of the study team.