By: Rahul Bharadwaj, India
On May 31st, World No Tobacco Day (WNTD), no one, except people like me, can understand the significance of this day. Until last year I did not even know when WNTD was, let alone its relevance. My life completely changed 4 months earlier when I was diagnosed with advanced mouth cancer that was a direct result of my habit of chewing Gutka pan Masala. Like several of my college friends, I started taking rupee gutka pouches that were sold just outside my college as mouth fresheners. Those days, little did I know that I am buying death and disability in one rupee. By the time the current text warnings came, I was heavily addicted and could not leave it despite threats by my wife and daughter.
I represent many youth in India who are diagnosed with mouth cancer every year and millions who are languishing because of their habit. I have seen death in very close quarters and no one can understand my pain. I had toxic chemotherapy, deforming surgery and painful radiotherapy. Despite all this, I am still not sure if I will live long enough to be here for my daughter’s next birthday. [...] continue the story