Smoking (dhumpan) the habit of drawing into the mouth and puffing out the fumes of burning tobacco in cigarettes, cigars, bidis and pipes. Smoking was probably first practiced by the native Americans of the Western Hemisphere. Originally used in religious rituals, and in some instances for medicinal purposes, smoking and the use of tobacco became a widespread practice. Tobacco was introduced into Europe in the 16th century by the explorers of the New World. By the end of the 19th century the habit virtually spread throughout the world.

Smoking is dangerous to health as tobacco leaf contains a large quantity of a highly poisonous alkaloid, nicotine, which is one of the most fatal poisons known. The tar that is produced during the heating of the tobacco leaf causes lung cancer. In addition to lung cancer, smoking has been linked with cancers of the mouth, pharynx, larynx, oesophagus, liver, gall bladder, pancreas, stomach, and kidney. Smoking also causes or aggravates cough, bronchitis, tuberculosis, asthma, peptic ulcers, liver cirrhosis, heart diseases, high blood pressure, and leukaemia. Smokers are much more prone to most of the other common diseases than the non-smokers.

Smoking is a serious problem in Bangladesh. It is a common habit of a large section of population of this country. They smoke everywhere- at home, in public places, on the streets, in the offices, educational institutions, trains, buses, and even in hospitals and medical centres. Thus 80-90% people of this country are exposed to direct or indirect smoking. As indirect smoking is equally harmful to health as direct smoking, people of Bangladesh frequently suffer in large number from common smoke-induced diseases like tuberculosis, peptic ulcers, coughs, bronchitis, asthma, heart diseases, and high blood pressure. It is reported that about 80,000 people die from, and about 15,00,000 people are attacked by tuberculosis every year in Bangladesh due to tobacco smoking. More than 46,00,000 people are now suffering from tuberculosis in this country. Smoking-induced heart diseases, high blood pressure and peptic ulcers cause thousands of deaths in this country each year. Thousands of people of Bangladesh suffer from cancerous diseases and about 60,000 of them die of these diseases every year. Most of these cancerous diseases are caused directly or indirectly due to smoking of tobacco.

Smoking is not limited to smoking of tobacco leaf alone. It extends to smoking of the more intoxicating narcotic drug, cannabis, the flowering tops of the female plant of Cannabis sativa (= Cannabis indica). This is a dioecious annual herb with compound leaves, which is found to grow wild, and under illegal cultivation in some districts of Bangladesh, and in a number of other Asian and South American countries. This addicting narcotic, a drug of abuse, is smoked all over the world under different names (Ganja in the Indian subcontinent, Marijuana in the European countries, Marihuana in the American countries and Hashish in the Middle-East Asian countries. Smoking of Cannabis causes addiction and many other health hazards. [Abdul Ghani]