Sene Changru, Assistant Professor, Department of History
As we all know, to lead a healthy life regular exercise and food that are best for our body are essential. It was only possible because of the consciousness that developed with scientific progress. One habit that is really common in our Naga society is the consumption of tobacco. Public awareness in 2003 conducted by the World Health Organization Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, required packages to contain warnings about the many bad side effects that can be experienced as a result of consuming tobacco. Despite the obvious health risks, there are still many people who ignored the warnings.
Tobacco has been actually an issue for centuries. As to understand better about it, let us look at a Brief History of Tobacco. When Christopher Columbus first discovered America in 1492, he encountered the first Tobacco smoker. On Columbus’s second voyage he was accompanied by Ramon Pane, a monk who observed the practice of snuff-taking. Then in 1502, the Spanish explorers noted the practice of chewing tobacco when approaching South America. Such methods of using tobacco in the form of Smoking, chewing, snuff-taking, are all toxic habits which were borrowed from America and became very popular, especially during the Colonial Exploration. In the 17thcentury, the spread of tobacco and its use has become so widespread that even Sovereigns thought it necessary to suppress such practices – notably King James I of England, Amurath IV the Sultan of Turkey, The Shah Abbas II of Persia and Mughal Emperor Jahangir all tried to curb the abuses of tobacco. Interestingly in the 20th century, Nazi Germany also made a strong anti-tobacco movement and promoted health education.
In this 21st century, the use of tobacco has increased drastically. If you are wondering why almost all the institution display say ‘No to Tobacco use’ because the use of tobacco has increased which threatens the society. In fact, tobacco has become omnipresent especially among youths. Many people are affected by the use of tobacco because the safety margin of their body has been used up with invested tobacco in their body. Such usages of tobacco not only affected the past but also affecting the present and will affect the future as well if the use of tobacco is not curbed. Today the use of tobacco has become a habit in almost all the parts of the world. Indeed the shrewd business of tobacco promoters and consumers demand is keeping the practice alive.
There are many reasons why people start taking tobacco such as – Advertisements, depression, domestic problems, peer pressure, etc. However, ‘Tobacco is psychic camouflage’, Tobacco is just opposite of what people think, if a person takes tobacco because of depression or thinks taking tobacco makes you feel good, confident, fit or strong etc, is only because a person has become addicted to it. Tobacco just renders the person oblivious to his physic distress for the moment but it never guarantees to resolve your miseries.
Why do people continue to use tobacco despite its negative effects? The answer is addiction. One of the primary ingredients of tobacco is nicotine, which is highly addictive. Despite a desire to quit such nicotine makes tobacco users continue to crave more, if they try to stop taking tobacco. John Harvey Kellogg, on Tobaccoism, opined that ‘Tobacco is one of the most mischievous of all drugs which perhaps no other drug injures the body in so many ways as tobacco does’. According to the Botanist, Tobacco is one among many poisonous plants and Nicotine which is present in tobacco is the worst ingredient in the deadly drugs. There are so many effects of tobacco on our body, but mentioning specifically relating to Blood is because ‘Blood is life’. The importance of white blood cell in our body not only defends the body against the attacks from germs but also play important functions to repair injuries and perform other important functions as well. But Tobacco disintegrates the white blood cells and decreases their power to combat germs. So Tobacco is actually a poison in our body as it invades the very citadel of our internal body and makes it vulnerable to sickness.
According to the Global Adult Tobacco Survey (2016-2017), Northeast tops the list with Tripura (64.5), Mizoram (58.7), Manipur (55.1), Assam (48.2), Meghalaya (47), Arunachal Pradesh (45.5) and Nagaland (43.3). Despite profuse programs to abstain youths from taking tobacco through the press and innumerable media stories on dangers of tobacco use, they continue to abuse it and suffer devastating consequences.
As the old saying goes, ‘prevention is better than cure’, it applies to only those who are not addicted to it. But as for those who are already addicted to Tobacco, it is possible to quit with the support of friends and family, Rehab centers, Hospitals etc. By breaking the chain of nicotine, they can feel better which will help to reverse some of the damages done by taking tobacco. Though there will be some relapses which are common. You can also try taking a day challenge that is ‘NO Tobacco for a day and never take again’.
I believe our society will take this message positively and effectively come together to curb the abuses of tobacco and in the process, creating a healthier society for us and our future generations as well.
Degree of Thought is a weekly community column initiated by Tetso College in partnership with The Morung Express. Degree of Thoughtwill delve into the social, cultural, political and educational issues around us. The views expressed here do not reflect the opinion of the institution. Tetso College is a NAAC Accredited UGC recognised Commerce and Arts College. The editors are Dr Hewasa Lorin, Tatongkala Pongen, Aniruddha, Meren and Kvulo Lorin. For feedback or comments please email: email@example.com.