Strictly enforce smoke-free policies! Quit tobacco before it’s too late

May 30th, 2009 - 5:22 pm ICT by admin  

There was a growing consensus to strictly enforce smoke-free policies at the public symposium organized by the department of Surgery, Chhatrapati Shahuji Maharaj Medical University to mark the World No Tobacco Day. Vice Chancellor Prof (Dr) Saroj Chooramani Gopal and Justice Shabibul Hasnain were the chief guests, and Superintendent of Police (SP) City Harish Kumar was the guest of honour.

“Scientific evidence has unequivocally established that tobacco consumption and exposure to tobacco smoke causes death, disease and disability. There is clear scientific evidence that prenatal exposure to tobacco smoke causes adverse health and developmental conditions for children. Secondhand smoke exposure causes heart disease and lung cancer in nonsmoking adults. Nonsmokers who are exposed to secondhand smoke at home or work increase their heart disease risk by 25–30% and their lung cancer risk by 20–30%.There is no risk-free level of secondhand smoke exposure. India enforced the ban on smoking in public places on 2 October 2008 and we must join hands to implement it effectively” said Prof (Dr) Saroj Chooramani Gopal.

“Effective pictorial warnings can save lives” said Professor (Dr) Rama Kant, Head of Surgery Department, CSMMU and a World Health Organization (WHO) International Awardee for the year 2005 on tobacco control.

“Pictorial health warnings are most effective way of broadcasting health messages across wide spectrum of population about the adverse health effects of tobacco use. Pictorial warning labels detract from the glamour and appeal of tobacco products and help to create an environment where ‘tobacco-free’ is the norm” said Prof Rama Kant.

“Effective warning labels increase knowledge about risks associated with tobacco use more effectively than text-only warnings. In a country like India where one-third of the population is illiterate, pictorial warnings can communicate health messages effectively and prevent uptake and motivate tobacco user to quit” further added Prof Rama Kant. “Countries with strong and effective pictorial warnings are experiencing major reduction in tobacco use” explained Prof Rama Kant.

However in India the pictorial warnings that are going to be implemented from 31 May 2009 are mild, weak and not field tested, said Professor (Dr) Rama Kant. As per the new rules notified on May 3, 2009, pictorial warnings would be displayed only on the 40% of the principal display area of the front panel of all tobacco packs (only ONE side of tobacco pack).

“Tobacco use is the leading preventable cause of disease and death in the world. According to the World Health Organization, each year 5.4 million lives are lost all over the world because of tobacco use. Out of these 9 lakh deaths occur in India alone. 2500 Indians lose their lives each day because of tobacco use. India has the highest number of oral cancer cases in the world and 90% of all oral cancers are tobacco related and 40% of all cancers in India are due to tobacco use” said Dr Vinod Jain, Assistant Professor in Surgery department, CSMMU, and Vice-President of Indian Medical Association (IMA) Lucknow.

Posters on grow without tobacco theme were also displayed. An elocution engaging school students against tobacco took place as well. Many NGOs including Bharat Vikas Parishad, UP Voluntary Health Association, Abhinav Bharat Foundation, Samadhan, Asha Parivar, Indian Society Against Smoking (ISAS) and others too part.

Bobby Ramakant

(The author is a World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General’s WNTD Awardee 2008)

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