As per Voluntary Health Association of India (VHAI), J&K is soon to emerge as the smoking capital of north India as the state’s cigarette consumption is almost double the nationwide prevalence of over 5.5%. In a recent survey, Media Officer VHAI, Binoy Mathew in a workshop on Tobacco Control Laws said that the state is emerging as the smoking capital of North India.
J&K has 12 per cent cigarette smokers, 3.8 per cent bidi smokers and 8 per cent smokeless tobacco users. The total use of cigarette in J&K which is 12%, is almost double the nationwide prevalence of 5.7%.Also, the highest number proportion of adults exposed to tobacco smoke in offices are in J&K which is almost 70 per cent. In another survey revealed by the Global Adult Tobacco Survey, in 2011, J&K had the highest number of smokers which shows that the problem is only rising to even more grave statistics now. The state also had the highest number of passive smokers (58%). The prevalence of smoking in Jammu and Kashmir has been higher than the national average, for a few years now.
The excessive use of smoking in the state has also led to a higher number of cancer cases. According to the cancer statistics in the state the main cause is smoking, particularly in the valley. The increase is alarming and smoking is one major cause of the rising deaths due to the dreaded disease.
The survey also tells that 81 per cent of smokers in J&K are aware of the consequences of smoking which include lung cancer, but only 58 per cent know that smoking can even trigger a heart attack. Even though some of the places are prohibited but since there is no check, people are less careful about laws. Also, there is no check on smoking in Government offices and now it is high time for the authorities to take measures against this. The young generation also, is inclined towards such hazardous habits and considering all this, the record is only going to go up in near future. The concerned authorities should take remedial measures before the situation becomes even more shameful for the state.
Awareness campaigns, anti-smoking drives, anti-tobacco programs need to be arranged by the government and NGOs so as the people can be made aware. There are many people in remote areas who are still oblivious to the hazardous consequences of smoking. Seminars can be arranged by the education department in various institutes and colleges. Posters and hoardings at public places could also help people refrain from this injurious habit.