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We have all heard the perils of drunken driving and talking on the cell phone while driving. But here’s a new one. Studies suggest that smoking while driving is a leading contributor to injuries, and motor vehicle crashes….click & see
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Studies done in US have pointed out that smoking causes risk factors for injury including fires, depressed reflexes, non-coordination, impaired fitness and, possibly, depressed moods.
The study done by B N Leistikow, D C Martic and S J Samuels interviewed adults (ages 18 plus) and followed up for vital status after a gap of five years using the National Death Index (NDI). Participants were classified as never smokers (fewer than 100 lifetime cigarettes), ex-smokers, and current smokers (smokers by baseline self report).
For smokers, cigarettes per day were recorded into 1-14, 15-24 and 25-plus cigarettes-per-day categories.
The study found that smokers have significant dose-response excesses of injury and death, independent of age, education and marital status. This supports earlier studies suggesting that smoking may be a leading contributor to injuries.
In fact, researchers have suggested that the correlation of smoking and driving should be studied in Asia, Latin America and Africa. Also, smoking-involved crashes may be studied in the same manner as alcohol-involved crashes.
Dr Ashok Seth, chairman and chief cardiologist of Max Heart Institute, says: “This is an interesting study. Smoking and driving may lead to accidents, and smoking is a distraction – far more distractive than any activity in the car. The accidents may occur as cigarette is an inflammable object, and lead to fires.
It may make the smoker distracted and spoils his concentration with one hand constantly engaged and moving to drop the ash. Smoking is also believed to release certain hormones which pump up confidence levels, leading to errors.”
The study is of critical importance to India, where smoking is responsible for about one in 20 deaths of women and one in five deaths of men in the age group of 30-69 years. By 2010, it is estimated that smoking will lead to one million deaths in the country.
Says Dr Anoop Misra director and head, department of diabetes, Fortis Hospitals: “Tobacco smoke contains high quantity of carboxy haemoglobin, which replaces normal haemoglobin and transiently decreases oxygenation of brain.
Smoking impairs certain motor reflexes and has adverse effects on message transfer in brain due to shifts in neurochemicals.
All these would impair any complex motor task as driving. Those who are heavy smokers or relatively new smokers are worst affected. Over long periods, smoking causes permanent damage to neurons and this results in decline of intellectual functions.”
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Sources: The Times Of India