Dr. Villoo Morawala-Patell is the founder, chairman and managing director of Avesthagen. With big dreams and knowledge, Dr. Villoo moved to France in 1989 to pursue her PhD in Molecular Biology at the University Louis Pasteur. Almost ten years later, she founded Avesthagen, an Indian Biotechnology company that believes in “Bringing Science to Life.”
Avesthagen is India’s leading Biology Innovation Company that pioneers the convergence of food, pharma and population genetics. Dr. Villoo seeks to solve some of the world’s greatest challenges through Avesthagen with smoking and tobacco usage being one of them. Dr. Villoo Morawala-Patell’s AVESTAGENOME project uses next-generation sequencing to identify early biomarkers of potential harm in smokers. More work is also being done on drought and salinity resistance using tobacco as a model crop for genetic engineering.
According to TobaccoAtlas.Org, around 10 million people die each year due to tobacco smoke in India alone. Just imagine the death toll around the world! Another big issue facing the country is the number of youths being lured to smoke and the growth of cancer due to tobacco smoke. Our government has made many rules to fight against smoking tobacco, but we need to support smokers to help them truly quit smoking.
I had the amazing opportunity to meet with Dr. Villoo Morawala-Patell for a conversation on World No Tobacco Day (May 31). She discussed the negative effects of tobacco smoking and shared different methods to help others quit smoking.
Dr. Villoo, how bad is second and third-hand smoke for us?
It is equally bad for non-smokers as it is for smokers. Studies have shown that a person exposed to second-hand smoke presents the same cancer-causing chemicals as the smoker themselves. Tar, nicotine, cyanide, formaldehyde, arsenic, ammonia, methane, and carbon monoxide are all the cancer-causing chemicals that we inhale from cigarette smoke.
We now know that second and third-hand smoking is dangerous for us, but does it also harm our pets?
Yes, of course! Second and third-hand smoke or passive smoke is dangerous for pets of all kinds.
Can the ill effects of smoking tobacco be reversed on a smoker’s health?
Smokers need to take preventive measures to reverse the negative effects of tobacco consumption, however, this will take some time. There have been studies that show if you don’t smoke for 6 hours, your heart rate and blood pressure starts showing improvement. If you don’t smoke for a day, all the nicotine in your bloodstream gets removed, the level of carbon monoxide in your blood drops, your fingers tips get warmer and your hands become steadier. As a result, more oxygen is supplied to the heart and muscles. If you don’t smoke for a week, your sense of taste and smell begins to rapidly improve. If you don’t smoke for 2-5 years, your risk of heart failure starts decreasing drastically. And if you don’t smoke for 15 years, the risk of a heart attack and stroke will be equivalent to a non-smoker.
Young children are getting lured to smoke tobacco at a very young age. How can parents help stop this?
It is important for parents to have a good and friendly conversation with their children to discuss the dangers of smoking tobacco. Children should feel comfortable to openly communicate with their parents and ask them questions. With a clear line of communication between parents and their children, this will help youth better understand why they should stay away from smoking tobacco.
As parents and caregivers, we need to adjust our approach when it comes to teaching our children good habits and values. Controlling children all the time does not help. It is important to have a friendly environment that allows children to be open and honest about smoking.
Does hypnotherapy help smokers quit smoking tobacco?
There used to be a time when hypnotherapy was used often to help smokers quit, but hypnotherapy alone can’t help. If hypnotherapy is used with other tactics to quit smoking, it may help. With hypnotherapy, the hypnotherapist makes you subconsciously stronger to believe that smoking is bad and that you must stop it. It does help smokers control their urge to quit but other supporting measures are required too.
Smoking tobacco is not good for anyone. Smokers not only cause damage to their own health but to everyone around them. It is important to make smokers understand the negative effects of smoking as well as passive smoking to help them quit and create a healthy environment for all.