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World No Tobacco Day 2023: Unmasking the lung symphony of cigarettes, hookah, and vaping

World No Tobacco Day 2023: Let's delve into the harsh realities of smoking cigarettes, hookah, and vaping habits and the toll they take on your precious lungs.

Health Desk Edited By: Health Desk New Delhi Published on: May 31, 2023 9:04 IST
World No Tobacco Day 2023
Image Source : FREEPIK World No Tobacco Day 2023

World No Tobacco Day 2023: In a world where lung health hangs in the balance, cigarettes, hookah, and vaping pose a significant danger. Cigarette smoking is the most common form of tobacco use in India, with 100 million adults currently smoking. Vaping is a growing trend in India, with an estimated 2.8 million adults using e-cigarettes. Hookah smoking is also popular, with an estimated 12.5 million adults using hookah. Let's delve into the harsh realities of these habits and the toll they take on your precious lungs. It's time to face the truth and prioritize the well-being of your respiratory system.


Cigarette smoking is a well-known risk factor for numerous health problems, with the lungs being particularly vulnerable. The harmful chemicals released from burning tobacco are inhaled into the lungs, leading to various detrimental effects: 

  • Lung Cancer: Cigarette smoke contains carcinogens which is biggest risk factor for lung cancer
  • Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD): Long-term smoking can result in COPD, characterized by chronic bronchitis and emphysema, leading to breathing difficulties and decreased lung functions
  • Damage to DNA in the sperms and also causing low birth weight babies and poor lung structure in babies of pregnant women exposed to tobacco smoke 


Hookah, also known as shisha or waterpipe, involves smoking specially flavoured tobacco through a communal pipe. Despite its popularity and perceived harmlessness, hookah smoking poses significant risks to lung health: 

  • Chemical Exposure: Similar to cigarettes, hookah smoke contains harmful chemicals, including nicotine, carbon monoxide, and heavy metals causing the same risks as cigarettes and an increased risk of respiratory infections.
  • Second-Hand Smoke: Individuals exposed to hookah smoke in social settings may also face the same health risks as active smokers. 1.7 times the nicotine of a single cigarette.
  • The amount of smoke inhaled during a typical hookah session is about 90,000 millilitres (ml), compared with 500–600 ml inhaled when smoking a cigarette.
  • People who smoke hookah may be at risk for some of the same diseases as cigarette smokers. These include oral cancer, lung cancer, stomach cancer, cancer of the oesophagus, reduced lung function and decreased fertility.


Vaping, or the use of electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes), has gained popularity in recent years, particularly among young adults. However, the perception that vaping is a safe alternative to smoking is flawed, and it can still negatively impact lung health: It actually creates an aerosol (or mist) that contains small particles of nicotine, metal and other harmful substances.

  • Inhaling this aerosol can cause lung inflammation and damage similar to smoking cigarette and nicotine is highly addictive.
  • EVALI: Vaping has been associated with a severe lung injury known as e-cigarette or vaping-associated lung injury (EVALI). Symptoms include cough, chest pain, shortness of breath, and in severe cases, respiratory failure. 
  • Unknown Long-Term It actually creates an aerosol (or mist) that contains small particles of nicotine, metal and other harmful substances.Due to the relatively recent emergence of vaping, the long-term health consequences are not fully understood. Researchers continue to investigate the potential risks associated with this practice.

Tips for quitting tobacco:

  • Set a specific date to begin your tobacco-free journey and communicate this important milestone to your friends and family. Their support and encouragement will be invaluable as you embark on this transformative path.
  • Create a tobacco-free environment by removing all cigarettes, cigars, or other tobacco products from your living spaces. Clearing away these reminders of the past will help reinforce your commitment to a healthier lifestyle.
  • Explore alternative ways to cope with stress that don't involve tobacco. Engage in regular exercise, such as jogging, swimming, or dancing, to channel your energy and release tension. Consider incorporating practices like yoga or meditation into your routine, as they promote relaxation and inner calm.
  • Connect with others who are also on a tobacco-free journey by joining a support group or seeking guidance from a therapist. These platforms offer a nurturing environment where you can share experiences, gain valuable insights, and receive encouragement from individuals who understand the challenges you face.

It is crucial to prioritize your lung health by avoiding or quitting these habits altogether. If you or someone you know is struggling to quit smoking or vaping, seeking professional help and support from healthcare providers which can significantly improve your chances of successfully overcoming these addictions and preserving your lung health for a better future.


(This article is attributed to Dr. Padma Sundaram, Consultant - Pulmonology & Interventional Pulmonology, Fortis Hospital, Cunningham Road)

(Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author. They do not reflect the views of India TV)

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