Developing countries falling prey to tobacco addiction
A recent study by Bo Xi from the School of Public Health, Shandong University, showed that globally, 80% smokers now come from low and middle-income countries (LMICs). It was also found that 90% of these smokers begin their tobacco intake before 18 years of age. According to the data discovered by this study, adolescents of the developing world are highly vulnerable to tobacco addiction.
Side effects of intake of tobacco
Tobacco contains nicotine, a highly addictive psychoactive drug which causes physical and psychological dependency. In 1954, when 40,000 doctors studied tobacco smoking over 20 years, it was discovered that smoking tobacco and lung cancer rates were related. Some of the diseases caused by smoking are cancer (lung, larynx and mouth, pancreatic), hypertension, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (emphysema and chronic bronchitis) etc.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO) estimates, 6 million deaths (10% of global deaths) annually are caused due to tobacco. Out of these, 600,000 people die due to second-hand or passive smoking.
Eastern countries - a rising market
According to the study, 2/3rd of the world's smokers live in 10 countries - China, India, Indonesia, Russia, USA, Japan, Brazil, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Germany. Only 4 out of these 10 countries are western countries.
Prevalence of smoking in adolescents
On the basis of data collected between 1st January, 2006 and 31st December, 2013, an average of 13.6% adolescents consumed tobacco. 55.9% adolescents were exposed to second-hand smoking. Between 12-13 years, 2.8% children consumed tobacco and the figure increased to 4.4% for 14-15 year old children. In contrast with other developing countries, adolescents in India consume tobacco at a relatively low level.
Rural and urban differences
Regional director of the Voluntary Health Association of India (VHAI), Seema Gupta said that children hailing from poorly-educated families in rural India consumed 'guthka' or chewing tobacco easily. In urban India, smoking tobacco in the form of cigarettes is more prevalent. This is because tobacco companies market cigarettes for free in bars, music festivals etc. leading to increased exposure to smoking.
What amounts to high tobacco consumption?
In India, leniency in laws prohibiting the sale of tobacco to minors is a major reason for tobacco being easily accessed by children. Another reason is the slow rise in the prices and low taxes on tobacco products. Conditional factors such as parents who smoke and passive smoking are the two most dominant reasons that lead to consumption of tobacco.
Deaths caused by tobacco
According to authors David P. Thomas and Marita Hefler, tobacco-related deaths in high-income countries are declining. By 2030, 6.8 million out of the predicted 8.3 million annual tobacco deaths globally will occur in low and middle income countries.