Hookah bars offering various types of flavored hookas have become the cool place to hang out for youngsters nowadays. Is smoking Hookah a lesser health hazard than cigarettes ?. “Fancy Hookah bars are mushrooming everywhere nowadays, in a single session of hookah shared among 5-6 people which lasts for an hour and one ends up smoking equivalent of a hundred cigarettes, due to this many states have banned Hookah bars though the ban is not enforced effectively” says Dr AS Dave, President, All India Heart Foundation.
Dr Dave gives the example of Maharashtra which has banned Hookah bars “Maharashtra has banned these but they impose a paltry sum of Rs 1200 for those who are caught violating this law, and of course if the defaulters pay a bribe to the police even that may be evaded” he said. He points out that tobacco smoke contains about 4000 chemicals with 43 of these being carcinogenic and 400 among those being toxic.
Dr Dave feels that as far as tobacco is concerned there exists nothing called a lesser evil “There was a time when tobacco was used in the fields as a pesticide. It is bad in every form, choice between cigarette, bidis, hookah, cigar, smokeless tobacco is basically a choice between the devil and the deep sea”. He underlines that cigarette smoke is highly addictive as it includes nicotine, tar, carbon monoxide, Hydropgen cyanide, Amonia, nicotine .
He brings to notice the Supreme Court’s observation of 2001 in the ‘Murli Deora vs Union of India’ case which to highlights that the costs incured by the nation from health hazards due to tobacco are far greater than the income from its production and sale “The Supreme Court noted and I quote “Tobacco , universally regarded as one of the major public health hazards responsible directly or indirectly for an estimated 8 lakh deaths annually in this country – it is also been found that treatment of tobacco related diseases and the loss of productivity caused therein cost the country almost Rs. 13,500 crores annually, which more than offsets all the benefits accruing in the form of revenue and employment generated by tobacco industry”. Dr Dave furthur points out that the honourable Supreme Court also noted that the rights of passive smokers guaranteed under Article 21(which deals with right to life and liberty) of the constitution is compromised as they are exposed to second hand smoke by the smokers.
He explains how tobacco consumption is related to a plethora of diseases “Almost all cancers are related to tobacco consumption be it cancer of the lungs, throat esophagus, bladder, kidney, pancreas and oral cancer. Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease or the ‘smoker’s lung’ is almost exclusively suffered by smokers. Peripheral vascular disease where arteries get narrowed and gangrene is the result for this 90% of the times those who are not diabetic smoking alone is the cause.
Smoking is closely connected with pregnancy and birth complications. Coronary heart disease is almost 3 times in smoker compared to non smokers the same goes for Cerebro Vascular Disease incidences of chronic obstructive lung disease is more than 10 times in smokers. Smokers show about 23.3 % higher incidences of lung cancer”.
He motivates people to quit smoking assuring them instantaneous health benefits. “Within 20 minutes of quitting blood pressure comes down, within 8 hours nicotine and carbon monoxide levels fall, carbon monoxide levels in the person decreases within 24 hours. In 72 hours breathing improves and blood circulation gets better in 12 weeks. About 10% improvement in lung function is seen in about 3-9 months. Those who abstain for 5 years their heart attack risk is halved. At the end of 10 years risk is same as non smokers”.
He insists that it is never too late to quit “Even if one quits at 50 cancer risk goes down by 10%, if you quit at 60 the risk goes down by about 5%, so it is always better to quit early but it is never too late”. He warns that if a woman smokes even one day after conceiving threat to the fetus and the baby arises.