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Anti-tobacco ambassador

Vimal Chander Joshi, August 20, 2013, DHNS:

Say no to smoke

aware Shubhi Arora campaigns for plain packaging of cigarettes to make them unattractive.

Shah Rukh Khan may be riding on his success of his latest movie Chennai Express which turned yet another movie to have forayed into Rs 100-crore club but Std XII student Shubhi Arora dislikes him and shrugs off his cult status for Khan’s characteristic habit of smoking.

“If Bollywood stars give up smoking, it will have a cascading effect on country’s youth and a considerable population will give up smoking,” says the 17-year-old anti-tobacco campaigner.

The fact that 10 lakh youngsters fall prey to the tobacco addiction each year annoys her a great deal.

She has been lobbying against addiction for tobacco for a little more than three years now and has represented country’s youth at several national and global fora. Her endeavours were recently acknowledged by a US-based organisation which awarded her – along with one more student from Chennai – the Spirit of Community Award. The international honour which is awarded every year to the students from Japan, South Korea, Taiwan and India also entails a trip to Washington.

Taking note of her contribution to the cause, she was once invited by the Public Health Foundation of India to share her views about various health programmes with Dr Nata Menabde, WHO’s representative to India.

Though she grew up in a no-smoking environment where none smokes at home, she gets pained to see the fascination for cigarettes among country’s youth.

The tipping point came when representatives from Hriday Shan, an NGO visited her school St Mark’s Sr Secondary School (SMS) in Janak Puri and showed a heart-rending video on the harmful effects of smoking. The video was a soul-stirring experience for the youngster and she decided to join the NGO as a volunteer and do her bit for the well-being of country’s youth.

In her individual capacity too, she says that she tries to convince her friends to give up the habit which can be fatal in the long run. If one tries to argue with her on the quantum of revenue which these cigarette sales add to the national exchequer, she curtly replies that the amount spent on treatment of cancer victims is much more than the revenue these sales bring to the country.

Shubhi believes that one of the biggest changes can be brought by introducing plain packaging countrywide.

“By making it a bland unattractive package, we can make cigarette packets inconspicuous for all would-be smokers especially the young people. Also, the pictorial warnings would dissuade a number of smokers to continue smoking,” she says.

Another big change which she wants to bring is the effective enforcement of law which prohibits people to smoke at public places such as restaurants.

“Australia has already introduced plain packaging in December last year. It is high time that we also follow. This will be our first step towards rooting out the menace,” she says affirmatively.   


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