The preventive oncology department of the Tata Memorial Trust carried out a survey on the BPO population in the city to see if there has been a major shift in their smoking habits in the past one-and-a-half years.
We interviewed various BPO employees from all over the city to study about their smoking habits. While both smoking and smokeless forms of tobacco was consumed,cigarettes smoking was clearly favoured. Very few opted for smokeless forms of tobacco like gutka, said senior oncologist from Tata,Dr Gaurvi Mishra who spearheaded the study.
According to Dr Mishra,a whopping 60% preferred smoking to any other form of tobacco consumption. The average age of respondents belong to 20-25 years of age. However,a marginal number of respondents are also under the age of 20 years. The study included both men and women.
While a lot of women,too,admitted to smoking,cases of passive smoking bothered them more. This was the second important factor that came to light after the study. Witnessing an increase in the number of cases of passive smoking,the BPO population is inclined to seek active help to get de-addicted, said Dr Mishra. Peer pressure among this group is a major factor why they turn to smoking. This group learns to smoke in packs. They largely smoke during break time where smokers and non-smokers intermingle. The non-smokers because of being in constant touch with the smokers become passive smokers and eventually active smokers which is the prevailing trend, said Dr Mishra.
Surprisingly,work pressure is not a major factor why they turn to smoking. Work related stress is a negligible factor. The study showed us that these youngsters come from very ordinary backgrounds who are struggling to pay for their further education or other domestic reasons. Previously,there was a misconception that they are just a bunch of fun-loving individuals who just want to earn money for better lifestyle, said Dr Mishra.
According to Dr Mishra,if smoking habits among this section of the population are not checked immediately,then by the time they reach their 40s they would eventually suffer from throat cancer or other throat ailments. What is heartening to notice is that they know they have a problem and are not shy from getting help. However,earlier studies do not highlight this trend. They no longer hide their addiction from their families, said Dr Mishra. They are willingly seeking tobacco cessation programmes,behavioural therapies and pharmaceutical therapies.