4 Feb 2014

Say no to Tobacco

Say no to Tobacco
Nearly six million people across the world die because of direct or indirect use of tobacco every year and the figure could go up to eight million by 2030 unless urgent action is taken says WHO. 
In India one out of 10 Indian adults dies of tobacco related diseases and Tobacco is cause for 1.5lakh cancers, 4.2 million heart diseases, and 3.7 million lung diseases every year. Our country has one of the highest rates of oral cancer. 
 According to Tobacco Intervention Initiative statistics, 4300 lakh tobacco is consumed in the form bidis, chewing tobacco, gutka and snuff and smoking cigarettes. Fourteen crore men and 4 crore women are addicted to tobacco in India according to official figures.  Over half of the male population around 57 per cent in the age group 15-49 years uses tobacco in some form and over one tenth of women in this age group also use tobacco. More than 5,000 youth in our country take to tobacco use every day.
The health ministry estimates that by 2020, tobacco will be responsible for 13% of all deaths in India and says that without any intervention, more than 38.4 million bidi smokers and 13.2 million cigarette smokers are likely to die prematurely. Second-hand smoke also remains a big problem. The misconception about certain tobacco products being safe also encourages many to consume tobacco in one or another form.
India launched the National Tobacco Control Programme in the 11th five year plan. It has ratified the WHO convention on tobacco control which recommends several strategies to reduce the demand and supply of tobacco.  India was among the first few counties to set up a chain of tobacco cessation clinics at the district level. Several legislations are also in place for reducing tobacco usage and manufacture. These include Regulations of the Food Safety and Standards (Prohibition and Restrictions on Sales) Regulations of 2011, made under the Food Safety and Standards Act and Cigarette and other Tobacco Products (Packaging and Labelling) Amendment Rules, 2012. 
As  per  the Regulations of the Food Safety and Standards (Prohibition and Restrictions on Sales) Regulations of 2011, made under the Food Safety and Standards Act,gutkazarda, pan masalagulbajjar and such other toxic and addictive forms of chewing tobacco are mandated to be banned by various states.
Although 24 states and five union territories have so far banned gutka and paanmasala containing tobacco, there is a question mark over the implementation of the ban. Whether it is the capital Delhi or other town   where the ban is in place, gutka is being either sold openly or clandestinely in different names and pouches which is the people addicted to are even willing to pay a higher price.
            The Supreme Court had last month sought compliance reports from all state governments that have banned the sale and manufacture of gutka and paan masala containing tobacco.
 According to the new Cigarette and other Tobacco Products (Packaging and Labelling) Amendment Rules, 2012, notified on September 27, 2012, all tobacco product packs in the country are to carry new pictorial warnings which focussed in detail the portion of the human body affected by tobacco use.
The health ministry had also for the first time inserted the word 'Warning' in the new pictorial warnings and mandated that this word be printed in 'red' colour along with the messages - 'Smoking kills' and 'Tobacco kills'.
The new notification makes it mandatory for all tobacco makers both smoking forms and smokeless to maintain pictorial warnings in the states format and also to place the health warning in at least 40 per cent of the principal display area of the tobacco package.
At recent consultations several government and non-governmental organisations called for a complete ban on advertising, promotion and sponsorship of tobacco products in the country. The consultation was by HRIDAY (Health Related Information Dissemination Amongst Youth) and Voluntary Health Association of India (VHAI) in collaboration with the Health and Family Welfare ministry and the WHO Country Office for India. It was felt that despite the regulations, tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship is very rampant and youth-centric. The urgent need to strengthen the existing provisions of COTPA and a multi-sect oral and inter-governmental synergy was stressed to effectively implement a complete ban.
Advertising of tobacco products is restricted under the Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products (Prohibition of Advertisement and Regulation of Trade and Commerce, Production, Supply and Distribution) Act, 2003, (COTPA).
It is also established that a majority of smokers as many as 70 per cent  desire to quit, but only 30 per cent of them actually try each year, and only 3 to 5 percent actually succeed in quitting, states WHO. 
The theme of this year World No Tobacco Day is: Ban tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship.
A comprehensive ban of all tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship is required under the WHO Framework Convention for Tobacco Control (WHO FCTC) for all Parties to this treaty within five years of the entry into force of the Convention. Evidence shows that comprehensive advertising bans lead to reductions in the numbers of people starting and continuing smoking. Statistics show that banning tobacco advertising and sponsorship is one of the most cost-effective ways to reduce tobacco demand and thus control its usage.
The objective of 2013 campaign is also drive local, national and international efforts to counteract tobacco industry efforts to undermine tobacco control, specifically industry efforts to stall or stop comprehensive bans on tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship.
Of the six million people who die of tobacco related diseases every year globally more than 600 000 are non-smokers dying from breathing second-hand smoke.
The ultimate goal is to contribute to protect present and future generations not only from these devastating health consequences, but also against the social, environmental and economic consequences of tobacco use and exposure to tobacco smoke.
So until all forms of consumption of tobacco cease through regulations and laws the goal of tobacco free India cannot be fulfilled. There is therefore a need for all stake holders in public health to coordinate their effort for everyone to emphatically say No To Tobacco. 

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