NEW DELHI: Seeking the support of civil society organisatons in curbing use of tobacco, Union Health Minister J P Nadda on Monday asked them to adopt a group of schools and sensitise children about its ill effects as he advocated a “catch them young” approach.
On the eve of the World No Tobacco day, he said it is important to sensitise school children about the ill effects of tobacco so that they don’t even start its use. “I urge NGOs and civil society organisations to come forward and adopt five six schools and sensitise children about dangers of tobacco use and effectiveness of large and graphic pictorial health warnings on tobacco products.
“The idea is to make them aware of the harmful effects of tobacco from the very beginning so that they don’t even start its usage both in smoke or chewing form. We can construct one cancer hospital after another and also create more beds and fill them up with patients. But the focus should be on preventive part,” he said. Referring to the Global Adult Tobacco Survey, Nadda said nearly 35 per cent of the adult Indian population consumes some form of tobacco despite growing awareness and so much sensitisation.
“But the report also revealed that 50 per cent of the tobacco users want to quit it, which is a positive aspect and we have to work in that direction,” said Nadda as he launched a National Tobacco Cessation Quitline to support users wanting to quit and also released tobacco control awareness tools, including public services advertisements featuring India’s Tobacco Control Ambassador Rahul Dravid. Nadda said as per the World Health Organisation (WHO), the use of tobacco is a major risk factor for four major non-communicable diseases (NCDs) namely cardio-vascular disease, cancer, diabetes and chronic respiratory disease and curbing tobacco use is one of the targets under the Sustainable Development Goals to reduce NDCs.
Dr K Srinath Reddy, President, HRIDAY and Public Health Foundation of India said this year’s WNTD theme is a clarion call for all countries to strictly implement existing tobacco control measures as he sought plain packaging to deter tobacco consumption.
“Plain packaging is a proven tobacco control measure and countries like Australia, France and the United Kingdom have fought hard against the tobacco industry to implement the law.
“India’s decision to implement 85 per cent pictorial health warnings on tobacco packages is a big step in the right direction and will go a long way in warning people about the real dangers of tobacco use. The next step is plain packaging, which reduces the dangerous allure of attractive packaging of deadly products. I hope that the Government soon introduces this evidence-based measure to curb India’s tobacco epidemic,” Reddy said.