Experts for awareness on ill-effects, stronger warnings on cigarette packs
Smoking cigarettes can not only affect health but also decrease fertility in males and females, experts have warned.
Recent studies in various countries have revealed that smoking not only affects human organs but also decreases fertility. ‘Smoking can damage the sperm and decreases fertility,” reads a warning on a cigarette pack of Davidoff Gold, a Swiss luxury tobacco product manufacturing company.
These studies have shown 23 percent decrease in sperm concentration and 13 percent reduction in sperm motility in men who smoke.
Experts in Kashmir corroborate the findings.
Noted Gynecologist, Dr Bilquees Jameela said the harmful chemicals in cigarettes take a heavy toll on various organs besides reproductive system. “Smoking definitely affects sperm in men and ova in women. This decreases chances of fertility. The first question I ask my patients is whether their husbands smoke or not. I have observed that most of my patients who are not able to conceive have chain smoking husbands. Tests revealed that they have low sperm quality, count, motility and morphology,” she said.
Dr Bilquees however said after these males stopped smoking, sperm quality and count of most of them gradually increased. “Smoking also affects female fertility. Though women mostly don’t smoke here but they become passive smokers when their husbands or other family members smoke around,” she said.
Officials said over a thousand crore worth tobacco products including cigarettes are consumed in Kashmir alone annually, mostly by youth.
A study on substance abuse conducted by Sher-e-Kashmir Institute of Medical Sciences (SKIMS) Soura states youth mostly college students in Kashmir are addicted to smoking. “From a sample of 1500 students, we found 30 percent males and five percent females resorted to substance abuse including smoking cigarettes,” said Dr Abdul Majeed Ganaie, Additional Professor Community Medicine SKIMS Soura.
According to the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), India records about 800,000 tobacco-related deaths every year, or 2,200 deaths a day. India is the world’s third largest producer and second largest consumer of tobacco after China; over 241 million Indians are estimated to be using tobacco in some form or the other.
“Cigarette smoke contains over 6,000 chemicals, including 43 known cancer-causing compounds. Smoking is the major aetiological factor in Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and lung cancer. Smokers are probe to develop respiratory tract infections,” said Dr Naveed Nazir Shah, Head of Department Chest Medicine at Chest Diseases Hospital here.
Cigarettes & Other Tobacco Products Act (COTPA) 2003 prohibits smoking in public places. By virtue of the Act, the state government has authorized 106 Food Inspectors now called as Food Safety officers of Drugs & Food Control organization to implement the COPTA in their respective jurisdictions
Executive Director of Jammu and Kashmir Voluntary Health Association, AM Mir, said the implementation the COTPA is slow in Kashmir. “We managed to declare many district including Srinagar, Budgam, Pulwama and Baramulla as no smoking zones, however, the authorities have failed to implement COPTA in letter and spirit,” Mir said.
Mir said due to strong lobbying by the cigarette companies, the Central Government’s notification for more graphic pictorial health warnings on cigarettes is overdue for past several years.
“It is mandatory for the cigarette companies to display ill-effects of smoking through message and photographs. However, they display on graphics which don’t discourage the people from smoking,” Mir said.
Shabir Ahmad Lone, Food Safety Officer, Drugs & Food Control Organization Kashmir said it has been taking action against those found smoking in public places. “Besides imposing fine we also counsel smokers to give up smoking. One of the leading cigarette brands priced at Rs 180 per pack has highest consumption in Kashmir. Smoking has become a status symbol at the cost of health of smoker,” he said.