Posted On October 29, 2015

Tobacco consumption in the form of cigarettes and bidis is the highest among low-income families in India. A 2009-2010 adult tobacco survey conducted by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Indian Health Ministry shows that Indian smokers spend as much as Rs 399 and Rs 93 per month on cigarettes and bidis respectively. Another study by WHO and World Health Survey (WHS) reveals that 46.7 percent of Indian men hailing from poor families smoke compared to 21.8 percent rich men. Studies also show that Indian women from poor socio-economic milieu smoke four times more than women belonging to affluent sections of the society. This implies that smoking and poverty are correlated. Tobacco addiction also has adverse impacts on a family’s health and budget.

Impact on Family Health

The members of economically deprived families are more prone to addiction and tobacco-related ailments. They suffer from lung infection, bronchitis, asthma and cancer. Men hailing from poor families often complain of chronic cough which is also known as ‘smoker’s cough’ or ‘smoker’s lung’. Most of the patients visiting health centers for tobacco-related health problems come from poor socio-economic backgrounds. Doctors from the Regional Cancer Center, Thiruvananthapuram also reported that majority of the cancer-affected patients who visit the hospital hail from low-income group families.

Instances of smoking-related deaths are also much higher in low-income groups than among affluent families in India. To prevent tobacco addiction among the poor Indian folks, appropriate prevention strategies need to be initiated.

Smoking Drains Family Income and Leads to Child Poverty

Smoking can make parents cut down on basic necessities of their children, such as food. A study conducted by the University of Nottingham shows that smoking forces about four lakh children into poor living standards. Tobacco addiction among low-income families results in reduced income which in turn makes them unable to feed and clothe their children or provide quality education to them. Recent studies in India also show that smoking cuts a family’s expenses on entertainment and recreational activities.

Let’s take a pledge to build a tobacco-free world and ensure a family’s income is spent to improve the quality of food, education and overall standard of living.

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