As per reports, tobacco kills more than 8 million people each year and this number includes smokers and non-smoke tobacco users as well as those who, unfortunately, are exposed to second-hand smoke. The rapid pace of contemporary life in many individuals results in elevated levels of stress, leading to the adoption of unhealthy coping mechanisms where one of the most prevalent and dangerous methods among these is tobacco use.
In an interview with HT Lifestyle, Dr Vikram Vora, Medical Director - Indian Subcontinent at International SOS, shared, “Intensified efforts are needed to eradicate the dependence on tobacco. Most users cite stress as a factor that drives them towards tobacco use. This stress can be personal, familial, societal or professional. Regardless, the basics, namely, a balanced lifestyle that consists of good dietary choices and physical activity can help in building resilience.”
He insisted, “It is important to recognise situations that trigger stress and consequent tobacco use. Once done, there are coping mechanisms like deep breathing exercises, walking, or practising mindfulness techniques that help to redirect focus and manage stress at the moment. If stress becomes overwhelming, persistent, or starts affecting your daily life, don't hesitate to seek professional help. A healthcare professional or mental health provider can provide guidance, support, and appropriate interventions to manage stress effectively. Tobacco addiction is often regarded as one of the most challenging dependencies to overcome, and there may be moments when it feels beyond one's control. During such times, it is important to be receptive to professional assistance and guidance.”
He suggested, “It is important for organisations to ensure that they provide adequate support to the workforce and awareness of the adverse health effects of smoking. While managing stress is a universal necessity, tobacco usage is not. Every tobacco-free day is a win. Our bodies and mind are versatile and will gradually perceive an improved sense of health and well-being. Taking a firm and decisive first step is all it takes. The rest will naturally follow.”
Bringing his expertise to the same, Dr (Prof) Vijay Patil, Consultant - Medical Oncology in Mumbai, recommended the following tips to beat stress:
- Practice relaxation techniques like deep breathing, meditation or yoga.
- Engage in physical activity, it helps release endorphins which improve your mood.
- Take breaks from work or routine and spend time doing activities you enjoy.
- Connect with friends and family as social support is crucial in managing stress.
- Seek professional help if stress starts to affect your daily functioning.
To avoid tobacco usage, he advised:
- Make a commitment to quit smoking and stick to it.
- Join a cessation program or seek professional help for smoking cessation.
- Avoid triggers that make you crave cigarettes, such as social situations where others are smoking.
- Try nicotine replacement therapy to manage withdrawal symptoms.