International Classification of Diseases (ICD-10) has notified tobacco dependence as a disease. The International Agency for Research on Cancer of the World Health Organization has categorized tobacco as a category I carcinogen (confirmed human carcinogen). Tobacco usage is strongly associated with several lethal diseases and numerous chronic disabilities. Tobacco, as per an ICMR study conducted in 1996, was responsible for 42 lakh cases of coronary artery disease and 37 lakh cases of chronic obstructive lung disease as well as about 1.5 lakh new cancers! Most Indians use smokeless tobacco therefore we are furnishing the information here.
To know about various tobacco products in India – http://www.aftcindia.org/tob_pro_india.htm
Smokeless Tobacco –
Predominant form of Smokeless tobacco in India is Gutka, Pan Masala and other such products that are posing serious health problems in India. While Pan Masala is a predominantly Areca Nut (Supari) product, Gutka is a combination of the Smokeless tobacco and Areca nut (Supari).Both Pan Masala and Gutka contain several other additives such as menthol, perfume, spices, sugar, preservatives etc to package it into a mouth freshening product.
Analysis of various market preparations of Gutka and Pan masala in India have shown very high levels of heavy metals viz. Lead, Cadmium, Chromium, Arsenic, Copper and Nickel in such products. These heavy metals are capable of causing serious human disease, as they are toxic even at ultra small levels. FDAs in several states have raided and seized several gutka products in the past especially in Maharashtra and Gujarat due to very high levels of Magnesium Carbonate.
Summary of health effects of the Smokeless tobacco are as follows–
• Highly addictive with dismal Quit rates of 5%.
• International Agency for research on Cancer, World Health Organization has classified Smokeless tobacco as confirmed cancer causing substances.
• Contains 3095 chemicals and 28 well proven carcinogens
• Causes severe impairment of the oral and dental health
• Strongly associated with precancerous lesions and cancer of mouth that is a leading cancer in India.
• Apart from mouth cancers, smokeless tobacco usage is associated with cancers of oesophagus, stomach, pancreas, larynx, pharynx and lung.
• It is associated with hypertension and Ischemic heart disease.
• It’s use is associated with increased risk of Stroke.
• It adversely affects reproductive health in women and also seriously affects the fetus.