Stubbing out the tobacco menace

In India 80,000 to 1,00,000 people are getting addicted to smoking everyday, writes Guruprasad T N 

The  World Health Organisation (WHO) celebrates ‘World No Tobacco Day’ on May 31 every year. The day reminds that there is a long way to go in containing the menace as well as in creating awareness about the danger of smoking. 

Perhaps, tobacco products are the only legally available products that can kill up to one half of their regular users! 

According to an estimation by WHO, the global tobacco epidemic kills nearly 6 million people each year, of which more than 6,00,000 are people passive smokers. And it is said that if effective steps are not taken at the earliest, tobacco would kill up to 8 million people a year by 2030.

Speaking  to City Herald, Dr Sanath Hegde, Director of Mangalore Institute of Oncology, says that the tobacco smoke contains as many as 4000 chemicals in it, including carcinogens which causes cancer. “In India, every year about 7,00,000 people die because of tobacco related diseases, which means tobacco kills 2000 to 2,300 people every day,” he added. 

“The alarming fact is that, in India 80,000 to 1,00,000 people are getting addicted to smoking everyday. Hence, there is a need to act quickly to create awareness about the dangers of smoking and the awareness should start in schools. When students come to know all these statistics, they may stay away from the habit. Ani- tobacco campaigns may also help in the process,” Dr Sanath adds. 

What about industry? 

This year WHO had selected “tobacco industry interference” as the theme of the day which is very relevent to the coastal districts.  

World No Tobacco Day always tries to educate policy-makers and the general public about the harmfulness of tobacco, but it is quite complex to make as many as 9,00,000 people who depend on beedi industry (only in the State)to leave the industry which is the source of their daily bread.  

“Most of the beedi labourers are uneducated. So awareness is the only way out,” Sanath said adding that the self- help groups have a major role to play. With the co-operation of government, they can provide alternate source of money to them to divert them from beedi industry,” he said. “NGOs like Sri Kshetra Dharmasthala Rural Development Project (SKDRDP) have done that. Preparation of food products, tailoring and preparing plates from areca spathe have been proved as successful alternatives,” he said. 

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