What’s in a smoke?


Every day as I leave from work, I see men, old & young alike making a beeline at the local Paan vendor. Some chewing paan while others indulge in a quick ‘stress-free’ smoking session.


So, the other day I noticed a group of young lads by the same shop. They all must have been in their early teens. One of them bought a packet of cig and started blowing smoke rings as the others watched in amazement. And then he offered it to another boy who at first declined it but finally took it after much persuasion by the group. He looked like a first timer. So this boy took the first puff, coughed, gave it back, took it back and puffed again.

And there it was. Another youth falling for the bloody stick.

So why is it so hard to say NO to another puff?

The answer is Nicotine. An addictive substance in tobacco which is as addictive as heroin or cocaine.

What’s in a smoke you may think, especially if you are young reader or a new smoker. Well, there are over 4,000 chemicals in cigarettes. 51 of them are known to be carcinogenic. A carcinogen is something that causes cancer. And we all know that cancer is a disease that often kills those who have it.

But do you know how much harm can one puff of a cigarette cause you?

Well honestly, one puff will not cause you harm but it could lead you to fall into a trap. It would n’t get you addicted but it could spark a curiosity to continue which will lead to addiction.

It really worries me to see the sorry state of tobacco consumption in our country. It inflicts huge damage on the health of Indians and could be clocking up a death toll of 1.5 million a year by 2020 if more users are not persuaded to kick the habit.

I remember reading a story in a national daily sometime last year which described how the number of people smoking has increased in the past three decades from 74.5 million to 110 million. In fact, India with 12.1 million women smokers in 2012, compared to just 5.3 million in 1980, has more women smoking than any other country except the US.

All this and a lot more saddening situation still prevails despite smoking being recognized as the third biggest health risk for Indians and despite all the anti-tobacco and smoke-free laws.

I think more than anything it is important to remember that as oppressed people become emancipated to make more choices they are free to make bad ones. It is too bad the many of the women in India see smoking as a way of showing their freedom. There are so many other ways to celebrate autonomy and personal choice. Becoming a slave to smoking is not a good way to do it.

Going by the looks of it, if the trend of an increase in cigarette smoking prevalence continues among Indian women, chronic health problems such as COPD, and lung cancer will also rise in about 20 yrs. I wonder if the country’s health care system will be ready for that?

Coming back to chemicals in cigarettes and cigarette smoke. They not only cause cancer but also other serious health problems. For e.g Tar is the oily material which remains after tobacco passes through the filter. When a smoker inhales, a lot of the tar sticks to and blackens the lungs.

I am sure we all have seen the advisory advertisement that they play before a film start at most of the movie halls. Imagine that happening inside your body. How does that feel? Scary, I am sure.

So now that you know what’s in a smoke, you have a choice. You can be happy non- smoker if you have never tried one or have quit or you can choose to become an addicted smoker. Consider carefully which way of life better suits you – a slave to a deadly leaf or a smoke free person? The final decision is yours.


Comments for “What’s in a smoke?”

  1. Reply

    Women have to be careful about smoking there are two major reasons as per my understanding first is its causes cancer second one is nature has given responsibility to conceive which can be easily affected by smoking.Thank you.
    Rohit japtiwale

    Rohit Japtiwale,
  2. Pingback: 10 Points to Save Our Lungs in High Levels of Air Pollution |


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