Thank You for Smoking!

Our health minister Mr.Abumani Ramadoss is the biggest and the most potentially dangerous foe of cigarette manufacturers. He and the cigarette companies are dagger drawn. Theirs is a war which spawns not just the health domain but also encompasses many political angles.

Ramadoss seems inclined to win this battle. He has many people supporting his cause. After all, smoking is injurious to health. It is cited that smokers die 5-8 years earlier than people who don’t. Smoking also gives rise to various diseases like lung cancer, mouth, esophageal, pancreatic, kidney, bladder and cervical cancer. Smoking causes emphysema (a lung disease which destroys a person’s ability to breathe). It increases the risk of having a stroke; it increases cholesterol levels, increases the chance of peptic ulcers, the list goes on and on and on…

But what is wrong with smoking?

If smoking is the root cause of so many dangerous diseases, it should be encouraged by the medical fraternity. If the crackdown on cigarettes ever proves to be effective, doctors would lose out on a great deal of revenue that they generate by treating chain smokers. As the earnings of the doctors will go up, the tax paid annually by them will also go up. This would mean more money in the government treasury. This money could be put to some productive use like working on the educational and infrastructural facilities in rural and urban India.

The tobacco companies spend crores of rupees in advertising for their products, from roping in high priced actors (a trend no longer being seen) to hiring the best advertising talent. The advertising for such products provides livelihood to hundreds of Indians. As tobacco companies advertise, the advertising agencies prosper. The benefits are passed on to their employees thereby raising the standard of living for these people. This increases their purchasing capacity and as they splurge money to pamper themselves, the benefits trickledown to the producers who produce the goods desired by these people. Hence, it keeps in mind the overall well being of the economy. The doctors benefiting from smoking patients, the manufacturers of products which help quit smoking also bring about a similar cause and effect cycle. The TV channels which air cigarette commercials make humongous amounts of money for each advertisement flashed across the channel screen.

It should also be kept in mind that tobacco companies worldwide employ millions of people, many of them being the sole breadwinners for their family. The tobacco industry provides livelihood to so many; where will these people go in the wake of the recent and subsequently planned crackdown on the cigarette industry to curb smoking?

The present population of India is estimated to be 1.4 billion. If population continues to skyrocket at this rate, soon a day will come when we the Indians will have no room to move, walk, and eat. This will also cause food shortages, job shortages, shortages of living space, drinking water, electricity. It will give poverty a further boost. This will lead to an upward spiral in crime rates. Overpopulation will certainly spell doom on our nation. Overpopulation is certainly a bane to our country. It is estimated that by 2010, nearly 1 million deaths will be due to smoking, and two thirds of these are likely to occur in middle-aged people. Smoking is directly responsible for 20 per cent deaths in males and 5 per cent in females between 30-69 years. This should be seen as a positive. It will keep the population of our nation in check and keep the problems associated with overpopulation at bay. It will also ensure that our population will remain in the young bracket, as the middle-aged and elderly smokers will be eliminated. Why, then, is smoking considered evil? It should be seen as a blessing in disguise.

While the authorities ask people to completely shun smoking, I would want to express my gratitude to the smokers and say ‘Thank you for smoking!’

Apurva Joshi

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