Tobacco smoking is harmful and causes cancer. But did you know that smoking isa major cause of cardiovascular disease (CVD) too. CVD causes one of every three deaths, according to the 2014 Surgeon General’s Report on smoking and health. Recognising this warning, WHO will be focusing on the impact of tobacco on cardiovascular health this World No Tobacco Day which will be observed on 31st May, 2018.

In India, every year, more than 9 lakh people are killed because of tobacco causing diseases. Yet, in India, more than 6 lakh children (10-14 years old) and almost 100,000,000 adults (15+ years old) continue to use tobacco each day.  (Source: tobacco atlas)

Tobacco Use in India

  • 19.0% of men, 2.0% of women and 10.7% (99.5 million) of all adults currently smoke tobacco.
  • 29.6% of men, 12.8% of women and 21.4% (199.4 million) of all adults currently use smokeless tobacco.
  • 42.4% of men, 14.2% of women and 28.6% (266.8 million) of all adults currently use tobacco (smoked and/or smokeless tobacco).

Source: GATS

Many call themselves a non-frequent smoker. But even if you smoke less than 5 cigarettes, early signs of CVD can set in. Even if you are smoking cigarettes with lower levels of tar or nicotine it does not reduce the risk for cardiovascular disease.  Smokeless tobacco is no less harmful. In India, 171094600 people still currently use smokeless tobacco, indicating an ongoing public health challenge.

Smoking Damages your Heart



Any amount of smoking, even light smoking or occasional smoking can bring about serious damage to the heart and blood vessels. For some people, such as women who use birth control pills and people who have diabetes, smoking poses an even greater risk to the heart and blood vessels. Atherosclerosis is caused when the opening inside the arteries narrows as plaque builds up, and blood can no longer flow properly to various parts of the body. Smoking increases the formation of plaque in blood vessels.


Smokers are at a greater risk of strokes than among former smokers or people who have never smoked. The carbon monoxide in tobacco smoke reduces the amount of oxygen in your blood. This means your heart must pump harder to supply the body with the oxygen it needs.

Peripheral artery disease (P.A.D.)

Smoking also is a major risk factor for peripheral artery disease (P.A.D.). In this condition, plaque builds up in the arteries that carry blood to the head, organs, and limbs. This results in an increased risk for heart disease leading to heart attack, and stroke.

When combined with other risk factors—such as unhealthy blood cholesterol levels, high blood pressure, and overweight or obesity—smoking further raises the risk of heart disease.

Second Hand Smoking is equally harmful

Research shows that exposure to second hand tobacco smoke is a cause of heart disease in non-smokers, which means you could be harming the health of your children, partner or friends.Secondhand smoke lowers good cholesterol, raises blood pressure and damages heart tissues of non-smokers especially children and teens.

Secondhand Smoke in India

  • 38.7% of adults were exposed to second hand smoke at home.
  • 30.2% of adults who work indoors are exposed to second-hand smoke at their workplace.
  • 7.4% of adults were exposed to second hand smoke at restaurants.

Source: GATS

Quit Now

Smoking damages the heart and blood vessels very quickly, but it can be repaired by quitting. Remarkable health improvements can be seen and within a year, heart attack risk drops dramatically. Within five years, most smokers cut their risk of stroke to nearly that of a non-smoker. Even a few cigarettes now and then damage the heart, so the only way to keep your heart safe from the effects of smoking is to quit.

The good news is 55.4% of current smokers in India are planning or thinking of quitting smoking and 49.6% of current smokeless tobacco users are planning or thinking of quitting smokeless tobacco use.  (Source: GATS)

With World No Tobacco Day being observed on May 31st in India along with the rest of the world, Consumer VOICE along with its state partners hope to create an impact and dissuade people from using tobacco in all forms.

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