ost people know smoking can cause cancer. But it can also cause a number of other diseases and can damage nearly every organ in the body. From the last few years, there has been a tremendous increase in the number of people who have taken to smoking in Kashmir in the past two decades. Everywhere one sees there are people taking long drags at the cigarettes. It is said that per thousand people the rate of smoking is the highest in Kashmir. The Health Ministry in year 2018 issued an advisory asking the States to ensure that products like e-cigarettes and e-nicotine-flavored hookahs are not manufactured, distributed advertised or sold. Following this, 15 States, including Karnataka, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Jammu and Kashmir and Mizoram, banned them. Several of the bans were under the Drugs and Cosmetics Act or the Poisons Act, under which nicotine was included as a ‘poison’. Further, the Central Board of Indirect Taxes and Customs (Anti-Smuggling Unit) and the Drug Controller General of India directed all their officials to ensure compliance with the advisory. While the tobacco companies promote e-cigarettes as a ‘less risky’ smoking option, some industry documents show that their real goal is to introduce ENDS products as an alternative to quitting. Apart from cigarettes the menace of weed smoking has also picked up in Kashmir. The unfortunate part is that the youth say it brings about a spiritual elevation in them. The shady marijuana deals are happening all over Kashmir with many areas in south Kashmir being the hotbed of the trade.
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One must understand that smoking is a bad habit which has unimaginable consequences for the human body.The chances of having lung cancer is higher in people who take to smoking in the early age. Besides, smoking adversely affects the fertility rate in humans. The consequences of smoking marijuana is even more adverse to both mental and physical health. The government must impose a strict ban on people who smoke in public places. The ban has to be implemented in letter and spirit. Apart from that, the government must systematically organise counseling sessions for youth who are addicted to smoking marijuana. Government needs to do all it can to discourage people from smoking. Let us hope for a smoking free Kashmir.