Tobacco & Cancer

A) Tobacco Control Act

“Make every day a No-Tobacco Day”



  • The Act applies to all products containing tobacco in any form i.e. cigarettes, cigars, bidis, gutka, pan masala, khaini, zarda etc.
  • The Act extends to every state and U.T. in India
  • Smoking in all public places is a punishable offence with a fine of Rs 200. These places include restaurants, schools, colleges, offices, buses, trains, auditoriums, courts, airports etc.
  • Display of prominent non-smoking signs e.g. “Smoking is strictly prohibited” is mandatory at all public places including schools and colleges.

  • Sale of tobacco to minors, or by minors is not permitted.
  • Tobacco products cannot be sold within 100 yards radius of an educational institution. It is mandatory that a display board is put up outside all educational institutions declaring the same.
  • Any Direct or Indirect advertising of tobacco products invokes 2-5 years imprisonment or a fine of Rs 1000-5000.
  • Brand stretching, i.e. using a tobacco brand name to promote other products or events is prohibited.

For more information, please contact Indian Cancer Society, Delhi. Cancer Helpline:011-24314907

“Make every day a No-Tobacco Day”

B) Tobacco and Cancer

“Make every day a No-Tobacco Day”

Tobacco has been described by WHO as “the single greatest cause of preventable disease in the developed world” It has been universally regarded that Tobacco is one of the major health hazards and is responsible directly or indirectly for an estimated 8 lakh deaths annually in the country. It has also been found that tobacco related diseases and the loss of productivity caused therein cost the country (Rs 18,500 crore annually) much more than all the benefits accruing in the form of revenue and employment generated by the tobacco industry.

Have you ever tried smoking? It is peer acceptance, which generally makes young adults take that first puff. The body reacts to the harmful substance and one coughs and the throat burns. The protective cilia lining of the throat gets burnt due to the hot smoke and we end up inhaling “unsieved”air. The tobacco companies add 80,000 new smokers in India alone to Death Row by their cleverly designed advertisements. Generally it is accepted that if one doesn’t succumb to the temptation of smoking till 22 years age, there is a slim chance of them ever taking up the habit. 5 million young people worldwide will pay with their lives for a decision they took when they were still underage.


Smoking or chewed tobacco causes bad breath and yellow stains on teeth and fingernails. The toxic chemicals in smoke are absorbed into your bloodstream and may impair blood flow to skin. This dries the skin and causes wrinkles, making a smoker look older than their actual age.


There are 4000 chemicals, 200 of which are poison and 69 certified carcinogens in tobacco. When you smoke, these toxic chemicals pass through your lungs and are absorbed into your bloodstream and carried around your body. Every cigarette you smoke is an elaborate chemical factory, designed to cause damage and affect every organ in your body. Toxic gases damage the cilia, while Tar, the solid particle in tobacco smoke coats your lungs like soot in a chimney. Some chemicals in your cigarette are:

Ammonia – commonly used in toilet cleaners.
Cyanide – used as rat poison.
Formal de hyde – used in laboratories for preservation of dead specimens.
Nicotine – “the Hook”, habit forming, addictive drug
(here we can photocopy 2 pages from the manual)


  • Cancer : Lung cancer, cervical cancer, cancer of mouth and throat, bladder, pancreas, kidneys and stomach. Cancer of the bone marrow. It helps cancers multiply in many other parts of the body.
  • Coronary heart disease and stroke
  • Respiratory illness including chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, pneumonia, bronchitis and emphysema.
  • Infertility of both men and women. Damages blood vessels in the penis, which may make men impotent.
  • Smoking places women at the risk of developing cancer of uterus, vulva, and liver. colon, gastric ulcers, breast cancer. Smoking is a known risk factor of osteoporosis.
  • Peripheral Vascular Disease (PVD) – Poor circulation leads to gangrene
  • Increased risk of cataract and age related macular degeneration (a common cause of blindness)
  • Nicotine in cigarettes increase heart rate and blood pressure, Heart works much harder and needs more oxygen.

    The Carbon mono oxide in tobacco competes with the oxygen in the blood. Smokers have 10 times more CO in the blood. Thus the rhythm of the heart is affected.
  • Chemicals in smoke change the blood making it thicker and stickier and more likely to clot


Smokers not only put themselves at risk of serious health problems, people around them are also exposed to the toxic chemicals in tobacco. There are 3 different types of tobacco smoke:

  1. Mainstream smoke-smoke directly inhaled by smoker
  2. Exhaled mainstream smoke-smoke breathed out
  3. Side stream smoke-smoke drifting from burning end of cigarette.

There is no safe level of exposure to tobacco smoke.

If you are a non-smoker being exposed to tobacco smoke is dangerous. Passive smoking is linked to lung cancer, breast cancer, nasal sinus cancer, heart disease, stroke, lung disease and asthma. Passive smoking during pregnancy increases risk of SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome) and miscarriage and effects baby’s birth weight and development of infant lungs.

Babies and children exposed to smoke are at risk of childhood cancers, middle ear infections, decreased lung function, onset of asthma, bronchitis. It is estimated that tobacco smoke causes 450,000 lower respiratory tract infections in infants & young children. Needing 25,000 hospitalizations. Children of parents who smoke are more likely to try cigarettes in their teenage years and become regular smokers. Parents are role models for their children.


Its not news that second-hand smoke is harmful yo your children. So may be you turn down the windows in your car. Research has highlighted the dangers for non-smokers exposed to smoke in cars. Contrary to common belief, opening the window does not eliminate dangers of tobacco smoke. Boston’s Hospital for children has found that toxins in cigarette smoke linger on car seats, upholstery carpets, long after the cigarette has been extinguished. Clothes and hair pick up the toxins too. In fact besides the smoker and the passive smoker who is inhaling the smoke there is a 3rd category called “3rd hand smoker “…smokers leave traces of their smoke along with the harmful chemicals on curtains, clothes, bed sheets, sofas…which are harmful to the 3rd hand people who use the same room/bed. A small child crawling in the room picks up tobacco particles in this way. It may lead to cognitive deficits in children.

QUITTING tobacco repairs the bank balance as well your body. The best way to avoid smoking is to remember the 4Ds when the urge strikes- Delay-delay for at least 5 mins and the urge will pass.
Deep Breathe-breathe slowly and deeply
Drink water-take “time out” and sip water slowly
Do something else-Ring a friend or go for a walk

There is no gradual process or “tomorrow”.

After 24 hrs the levels of CO in your blood drops dramatically. Within 5 days of quitting smoking all nicotine products leave your body. The taste buds come alive again. Your breath, hair, fingers, teeth and clothes will be cleaner. At 1-week cilia of lungs start cleaning mucus again. After 3 months your lung’s cleansing system will be working normally. Blood is less thick and sticky and blood flow improves. After 10-15 years your risk of death from all causes, including lung cancer, will be close to that of someone who never smoked.


  1. Build Public Opinion against Tobacco. Understanding and Awareness work better than a Ban, though drastic action invites thoughtful discussion.
  2. Schools & Colleges are ideal settings for thoughtful awareness programmes.
  3. Withdraw all privileges to tobacco companies, – Lifestyle products that strengthen the Brand must be banned. It was public outcry that removed Tobacco sponsorship of Sports.
  4. Study the Tobacco Control Act, and its provisions.
  5. Enforce existing legislation stringently.
  6. Demand utilization of Tobacco taxes to set up de-tox Quit programmes, and a coherent anti-Tobacco policy.
  7. Put anti-smoking Quit products (Nicotine patches, Gum, etc) side-by-side with Tobacco products, in kiosks, not Chemist shops.


“Make every day a No-Tobacco Day”