'More must be done to stop smoking'

'More must be done to stop smoking'

Kicking the butt

Union health ministry is planning to push for plain packaging for tobacco products, making pictorial warning more prominent.

According to the ministry, this will help reduce tobacco consumption in the country.
The ministry’s plan is influenced by a policy document by Australia-India Institute Taskforce on Tobacco Control released on Monday.

According to the plain packaging legislation in Australia, packaging of cigarettse and beedis cannot have colours, embossing, logos, brand images and promotional information.

Doctors suggest stronger and stricter measures for reducing tobacco consumption.

“There are no studies in India, but from my experience, I do not think impressions and pictures on cigarette packets make much difference. People smoke because it acts as a stimulant,” said Dr Kishore Arya, psychiatrist, Safdarjung Hospital.

“When there is an urge, they do not care about what is there on the packets,” added Dr  Arya.

He added that people mostly buy single cigarette sticks instead of packets and that there is a very small percentage of smokers whom warnings affect.

“Audio-visual appeals make larger difference. There should be campaigns on radio and television prompting people to quit tobacco products,” he added.

Dr Raj Kumar, head, pulmonary medicine, Vallabhbhai Patel Chest Institute welcomed the idea.

Clear warning

“It will be a good move by the government to make pictorial warning clearer on the packets,” said Dr Kuamr. But he also said unless taxation on tobacco products is increased, smoking will not reduce substantially.

“We need to do more. Advertisements of tobacco products should be banned. Also, ban on smoking scenes on small and big screen should be strictly implemented,” he suggested.

Dr Kumar added that if celebrities come out in public and encourage the youth to stop smoking, then this will make a large impact.

According to Global Adult Tobacco survey, 274.9 million Indians consume tobacco.
India is the world’s third largest producer of tobacco. Of 5.5 million tobacco-related deaths worldwide a year, India accounts for nearly 0.9 million.

According to estimates, if nothing is done to curb the rate of increase in tobacco users, by 2015, world will have 10 million deaths a year due to tobacco consumption.

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