It seems that the appearances of movie stars looking cool as they smoke a cigarette or cigar, the booming hookah bar culture and even genetic predisposition of the young, is attracting a large number of youth in the city to the use of tobacco. What is making matters worse is that the younger generation is consuming tobacco along with other addictive substances, thereby increasing the risk of cancer several times.
According to experts, tobacco itself contains 4,000 different types of chemicals, including many carcinogens, adding tobacco to hard drugs, marijuana or even alcohol results in an even more lethal concoction.
"Several second-generation smokers (whose parents are or have been smokers) that have been exposed to passive smoking are also increasingly falling prey to the nicotine addiction that comes with consumption of tobacco products like cigarettes, bidis, hookahs and cigar. In fact, nicotine addiction, which is the worst kind of addiction and most difficult to get rid of, is catching on like wildfire among the younger lot.The compound nicotine in tobacco is habituating and addicting," said Dr Tapaswi Krishna, pulmonologist, Gleneagles Global Hospitals.
Apart from genetic factors and influence of movies, other factors contributing to tobacco addiction are growing financial independence and easy access to the internet, say medical experts. They further add that the younger addicts will not be able to quit their addiction easily, especially cigarette smoking because of many reasons.
"It's not just because they are pre-disposed genetically but also because of changes in the design and composition of cigarettes -be it the use of ventilated filters or increased levels of tobacco specific nitrosamines -that will make it more difficult for them to quit smoking," explained Dr M Babaiah, consultant radiation oncologist and medical director, American Oncology Institute.
Doctors also state that 30-40% of all cancer cases reported in the city are head and neck cancers. "A majority of such cancers are caused by consumption of tobacco either individually or in combination with other addictive substances," added Dr J Sashikanth, chief of surgical oncology at the American Oncology Institute.
Experts also do not endorse the supposedly safer 'e-cigarettes'. “Though e-cigarettes are known to be 90% safer than regular cigarettes, they are not completely safe as they have highly addictive nicotine, flavouring as well as other chemicals," said Dr Shailaja, consultant pulmonologist, MaxCure Hospitals.