A survey conducted by a leading private insurance company has revealed that 41 percent of the respondents in Mumbai are smoking more cigarettes in the past 2-3 years, while only a small 14 percent have succeeded in curbing the habit.
A huge 81 percent of tobacco users surveyed in Mumbai said they smoked most during working hours. Interestingly, even the stringent rules under the Cigarettes and other Tobacco Products Act (COPTA) did not help to change the habit for more than half the respondents.
The study, which was anchored by ICICI Lombard, interviewed 1,111 respondents in Mumbai, Kolkata, Ahmedabad, Lucknow and Hyderabad to find out the pattern of tobacco consumption and social, psychological factors influencing the lifestyle of tobacco users.
Overall, the survey confirmed the reasons why people continue to smoke, with 62 percent saying it was a good stress reliever, 54 percent attributing it to work pressure and 42 percent blaming it on personal problems.
However, 9 out of 10 respondents said they did try to quit the habit, but heavy addiction had been a major hindrance.
Sanjay Datta, chief, underwriting and claims, ICICI Lombard GIC Ltd. said, "The findings clearly indicate that a lot needs to be done to motivate people to quit the unhealthy habit of tobacco consumption and opt for health insurance for their financial safety."
Asked about the ill-effects of tobacco, over 80 percent of the respondents stated that they were aware that smoking cigarettes/chewing tobacco caused cancer of the lung, mouth, throat.
The study also found that less than half (45 percent) had health insurance. Mumbai had the maximum number of insurance policies covering tobacco-related ailments.
May 31 is observed as World No Tobacco Day every year and this year the World Health Organization is campaigning to "raise taxes on tobacco" to help reduce the consumption.
In line with this theme, the Tata Memorial Hospital kick-started its programme with a letter to the government asking health officials to raise taxes on tobacco.
"This year, WHO has kept the theme to 'raise taxes on tobacco'. This effort is aimed at making all forms of tobacco inaccessible and thus curb the menace of tobacco-related cancer," said Dr Pankaj Chaturvedi, onco-surgeon at Tata Memorial Hospital.
Highlights of the survey:
41% of the respondents to the survey in Mumbai said they are smoking more cigarettes in the past 2-3 years. Only 14% said they had succeeded in smoking less.
62% said they felt smoking helped them to relieve stress, 54% were smoking more due to work pressure and 42% due to personal problems.
50 % (in Mumbai) said they smoked 4-5 cigarettes a day.
In Mumbai, chewing tobacco and smoking bidis are the no. 1 and no. 2 intoxication habits.
56% in Mumbai believed that smoking cigarettes would not affect their health as they had indulged in the habit for a long time and had not faced any ill-effects.