The entire process of grinding tobacco at larger scale, preparing naswar and its regular use all have its share of drawbacks.
Tobacco-grinding factories in areas where it is produced have caused substantial environmental damage for the local populace. The fine dust of tobacco pollutes the environment, causing allergic rhinitis, sinusitis, tonsillitis, post nasal dribbling and ultimately Asthma, especially among children. During the making of naswar, the constant smell of tobacco has a nauseating effect, causing headaches and handling it sometimes leads to rashes or itchiness on the skin.
The consistent use of naswar has also been described as one of the major reasons of oral cancer. The Peshawar University’s Department of Pharmacy, in their report published in January 2011, reveals: “Greater incidence of cancer of the oral cavity and oesophagus were reported in individuals using naswar in the study. It is also pertinent to note that oral cancer attributable to use of naswar are about 50 per cent of the total oral cancer cases reported in Pakistan. Similarly, the consumption of naswar has also been correlated with higher incidence of peptic ulcer disease.”
Various studies on use of smokeless tobacco have shown an alarming rise in consumption among students at high school level. Those addicted to naswar started using it before the age of 16.
Published in Dawn, Sunday Magazine, June 8th, 2014