30% U’khand population addicted to tobacco
Statistics have revealed that around 30 per cent of total Uttarakhand population is addicted to tobacco. Equally alarming is the revelation that over 7,000 persons across the State are now afflicted with cancer. And over fifty per cent of them are addicted to tobacco. Another research data has revealed that around 90 per cent of the tobacco addicts get addicted in their teens. Sitting up in alarm, experts opine that the State Government must swing into action in no time to control things. “They must adopt a two-pronged strategy of launching relentless awareness campaign, particularly among the youth, highlighting the lethal impact of such addiction and it must see to it that the existing laws meant to curb the trend are enforced strictly,” one of them said.
The grim scenario came to the fore in course of a state level workshop on ‘tobacco-free Uttarakhand and role of media’ jointly organised by Voice of Tobacco Victims and department of consumer affairs, government of India in Dehradun on Saturday.
Dr Sunil Saini, member of VoTV and Swami Rama Himalayan University, said that the figure of Cancer patients is rising by 3000 each year in Uttarakhand. “And half of them are tobacco addicts. There has been a ban on all forms of processed/flavoured/scented chewing tobacco, whether going by the name or form of gutkha, zarda and others. But things are bleak on the ground,” he rued.
He further said the deadly habit is now stealing its way deep into the hills. “Around 15 years ago, chewing tobacco was foreign to the people of mountainous parts. But after companies introduced tobacco pouches are fast changing for the worse,” he added.
Saini further said tobacco use is the foremost preventable cause of death and disease globally as well as in India. “As per the global adult tobacco survey India (GATS) 2010, smokeless tobacco/chewing forms are the most prevalent forms with 206 million Indians using it. As such, the consequent burden of mortality and morbidity due to consumption of smokeless tobacco is very high in India. In Uttarakhand, cases of neck, tongue and mouth Cancer are rising. Mouth Cancer is curable if persons addicted to tobacco quit it,” he said.
Sanjay Seth, Healis chief of operations, said that this campaign has been run by Healis, which proved a game changer in tobacco control. Some states, including Himachal Pradesh, have managed to enforce ban on use of tobacco at public places and police are imposing challans on the law- violators. “This is a good example for others to emulate. Mere formulation of laws is not enough with things going the dangerous way. Enforcement of the laws enacted is equally important,” he added.
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