Disclaimers go up in smoke, tobacco use still a health hazard

Tobacco-related diseases a big drain on exchequer, says survey

Disclaimers go up in smoke, tobacco use still a health hazard

 The disclaimer on packets of cigarettes and tobacco products - ‘smoking is injurious to health and tobacco use is injurious to health’ - appears to have had little impact on people in the State.

Following the 2009-10 Global Adult Tobacco survey conducted by the World Health Organisation (WHO), wherein Karnataka saw 28.2 per cent of its adults using tobacco, it is said that the State spent Rs 983 crore in a year to treat tobacco-related diseases as per a survey conducted by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.

Across the country, the WHO survey had recorded that 34.6 per cent of adults use tobacco, with 14 per cent of them using cigarettes. In Karnataka, 12 per cent of the adults have been recorded as smokers, with another 19 per cent using smokeless tobacco. Further, 44 per cent of the adults were exposed to second-hand smoke at home.

These alarming statistics, coupled with the massive financial burden on the State for treating patients with tobacco-related diseases, have forced the State government to start an awareness campaign for dissuading people from using tobacco.

According to the 2011 Health Ministry study, Karnataka spent Rs 983 crore in 2011, on treating patients with tobacco-related diseases. The expenditure was incurred for treating patients between the ages of 35 and 69. 

The survey suggests that the highest economic burden was due to cardiovascular diseases (Rs 138 crore) on account of tobacco use. This is followed by respiratory diseases at Rs 77 crore, cancers with expenditure to treat them at Rs 48 crore, and tuberculosis at Rs 54 crore.

Releasing the survey in the City on Tuesday, Chief Minister Siddaramaiah said that the awareness campaign, coupled with several recommendations made in the study by an expert committee headed by Dr Prakash C Gupta, will be taken up on a serious note. On whether the State will consider further increasing taxes on tobacco products and on production of tobacco, Siddaramaiah said he will discuss the matter with the ministers and take a call.

“The awareness programme is a must, to ensure that people stop using tobacco products. We are taking the first step towards this, after having banned gutka,” he said.

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