Warnings on fake cigarette packs to campaign against tobacco

May 25th, 2008 - 5:44 pm ICT by admin  

New Delhi, May 25 (IANS) Fake cigarette packets with pictorial warnings and a public lighter which can be used only after ringing a “bell to hell” are some of the initiatives of a week-long ‘Tobacco Free Youth’ campaign ahead of World No Tobacco Day May 31. The campaign, which started here Sunday and culminates on World No Tobacco Day, aims to reduce experimentation with and initiation of tobacco use among the youth.

Naveen Kumar, psychologist and a trustee of Manas, said pictorial warnings are successful in dissuading people from tobacco usage, as evident from experiences in Singapore and Australia. Manas, along with The World Health Organisation (WHO) and the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare is conducting the campaign.

“With the pictorial warnings on the fake cigarette and gutka pouches, we are using the principle of creating cognitive dissonance - an emotional distress that is experienced when a person does an act opposite to his strongly held values,” Kumar said.

“Thus, when a smoker takes one of these packs from the kiosk, it will be hard for him to deny the harmful effects of tobacco,” he added.

Not only that, the packets will also have pamphlets giving information about the harmful effects of tobacco, simple tests to determine dependency on tobacco, a quit-smoking plan and contacts of services where they can seek help.

“Numerous studies among youth show that tobacco use in this group is prevalent, and increasing. Lifetime prevalence of cigarette smoking and use of other tobacco products among medical students was 28 percent and 22 percent respectively,” Kumar said.

“Among the male students of Delhi University, 28 percent of the surveyed samples were found to be smokers. The stress scores were significantly higher among smokers than non-smokers.”

Kiosks selling fake cigarette packets will be set up in five locations in Delhi and the NCR region and street plays and participatory games held during the campaign.

The most interesting part is probably the “Bell to Hell”, a public lighter, which one can use only after ringing the bell.

According to Manas, exposure to tobacco in any form causes illnesses like cancer, cataract, bronchitis, stroke and cardiovascular problems. Ninety percent of all cases of lung cancer are caused by smoking.

In India, tobacco kills 800,000-900,000 people each year, which means 2,220 deaths a day and one death every 40 seconds.

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