List of Contents
What is the News?
As per the estimates of WHO, around 1.3 billion people smoke all over the world. Among them, 80% live in low and middle-income countries.
Smoking kills over eight million people around the year. Over seven million of these people die due to direct tobacco use, and 1.2 million non-smokers are exposed to second-hand smoke.
Traditional cigarette smokers are 30% to 40% more likely than non-smokers to develop Type 2 diabetes.
India has about 12 crores of people who smoke or about 9% of Indian people.
A material called Cannabis is prevalent in India and neighbouring countries. Even today, during the annual Holi festival, people in India smoke ganja or bhang, to feel “high”.
Note: Cannabis is a plant product that is known by the local names marijuana, charas, hashish, ganja, and bhang. The user feels ‘high’ upon consuming (smoking) it. The active principle in Cannabis is a psychoactive molecule called tetrahydrocannabinol, which is responsible for its psychoactive and intoxicating effects.
Steps taken against Smoking
Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, 2003: WHO has adopted the convention in 2003. It has been included as a Global Development Target in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development (SD).
India is a party to this WHO Framework. In accordance with this Framework, India has completely banned smoking in many public places and workplaces such as in healthcare, educational and government facilities and in public transport.
What is the origin of Tobacco?
Tobacco appears to have been cultivated in the Peruvian/Ecuadorian Andes in South America. The Spanish word for these intoxicating plants was ‘Tobacco’.
Portuguese explorer Christopher Columbus introduced tobacco to Europe and their colonies in India and South Asia.
The active principle in tobacco is the molecule nicotine. It is named after Jean Nicot, who was a French Ambassador in Portugal. He sent tobacco seeds from Brazil to Paris in 1560.
Tobacco Cultivation in India
Tobacco cultivation in India was introduced by the Portuguese in 1605. Initially, tobacco was grown in Gujarat and later spread to other areas of the country.
Attempts to improve Indian tobacco began with the establishment of the Calcutta Botanical gardens in Howrah in 1787. In 1814, seven species of Nicotiana imported from America were cultivated in the botanical gardens of Calcutta.
Imperial Agricultural Research Institute was established in 1903 to carry out botanical and genetic studies of tobacco.
Source: This post is based on an article “Smoking causes over seven million deaths a year” published in The Hindu on 28th March 2022.