Deadly Smoke Signals
GovernanceNow|August 15, 2017

As India struggles to check tobacco use and the losses it inflicts, tobacco firms up the ante

SB Easwaran

There are a zillion secret reasons why people start on the one habit that has not even a single benefit, worsens their health from the very first day, uglifies their teeth and makes them smell unbearably foul, and what’s worse, is a major cause of cancer. We are speaking, of course, of smoking or otherwise ingesting tobacco. (even alcohol in strict moderation is supposed to be good for the heart.) The real reasons people start taking tobacco are secret because, after all, who will confess to taking up smoking because some actor, writer, or celeb looked cool with a cigarette, some mirror made them look suitably rebellious, some tobacco-glamorising ad judo-tricked their mind, or some friends made them feel left out without the smoky halo or the jaw working away on something chewy or granular? once they start on tobacco, however, users are bound to it by the nearly unbreakable chain of chemistry and physiology. The majority of those who begin remain users for the rest of their lives. “You don’t quit cigarettes, they quit you one day,” as Sumitra Hooda Pednekar puts it (see profile on page 24).

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