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World No Tobacco Day: Pledge together to “Commit to Quit”

Dr. P. Vijay Karan Reddy, Consultant Radiation Oncologist,  Apollo Cancer Institutes, Hyderabad.

Dr. P. Vijay Karan Reddy, Consultant Radiation Oncologist,  Apollo Cancer Institutes, Hyderabad.

The problems caused by tobacco consumption were never a secret. However, the atrocities caused by COVID-19 in recent years has motivated more and more people to quit tobacco and lead a healthy life.

Tobacco causes over 8 million deaths every year. 28.6% percent of population in India, that is 1 in every 5 use smokeless tobacco and 1 in every 10 people smoke, which is a very alarming number.  In order to reduce these numbers, and to draw global attention to the tobacco epidemic WHO started World No Tobacco Day and it is celebrated around the world every year on May 31.

Tobacco affects every single cell in our body and the consumers end up facing the risk of severe respiratory or heart diseases. Tobacco causes almost all cancers either directly or indirectly. It is the leading cause of lung cancer and possibly the only causative factor to cancer that has been conclusively proven- increases the risk to more than 50 percent. Other common cancers include head and neck cancers, specifically throat cancer and mouth cancer. Related to the present pandemic, smokers also have a 50% higher chance of developing severe issues due to Coronavirus disease with increased risk of hospitalization and need for a ventilator.

The silver lining is that it is preventable and in many cases the damage is reversible. So, quitting and motivating people to quit is one of the best things anyone can do to keep themselves safe and healthy.

Quitting is not an easy task. Cravings and urges for tobacco can be very powerful. However, with sheer determination and external support, one can always commit and win against the addiction. As Edith Zittler said,

“The best way to stop smoking is to just stop – no ifs, ands or butts.”

This World No Tobacco Day, the World Health Organisation (WHO) has launched the “Commit to Quit” Campaign to help 100 million people wanting to quit. Under the campaign, they have strategized various initiatives to support people wanting to quit.

Quitting tool kit (WHO):

  1. Set a quit date – choose a date which is significant in your life like your anniversary/birthday/birthdays of family members which will motivate you to commit
  2. Tell your friends, family, and co-workers – they will be support system
  3. Remove tobacco products from your environment
  4. Lastly, the most important step – curb your cravings 


  1. Delay: Delay the urge by keeping yourself busy, have a lollipop/chips/gum etc
  2. Deep breathing:  Take a deep breath for 10 secs which will help you reduce your anxiety
  3. Drink water: Drink a lot of water
  4. Do something else to distract yourself: Go for a walk, watch tv, play a sport, spend time with family
  5. Pharmacotherapy – WHO recommends the use of nicotine patches and gums but they are more effective when prescribed by your doctor based on your dependence. 

Benefits of quitting:

  1. 20 min –  your heart rate drops
  2. 2 weeks upto 3 months – Your heart attack risk begins to drop Your lung function begins to improve
  3. 1 yr upto 5 yrs –  Your added risk of coronary heart disease is half that of a smoker’s
  4. 10 yrs – Your lung cancer death rate is about half that of a smoker’s
  5. 15 yrs  – Your risk of coronary heart disease is back to that of a non-smoker
  6. The younger the age you decide to quit, the longer your life expectancy

So let’s all join hands and strive together to a healthier life and a healthier world!

Say “no” to tobacco and “Commit to Quit”!!!

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