(Words: 946 )
May 31 is observed as “World No Tobacco Day” to create awareness against the ill effects of tobacco consumption and motivate people to commit to quit the habit. Tobacco consumption leads to health complications such as respiratory infections, mouth cancer, etc. However, according to studies, it may also impact one’s social and mental life.
According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), about 65% of the world’s population is covered by at least one comprehensive tobacco control measure. On the occasion of World No Tobacco Day, let’s take a look at why quitting tobacco is important for good health and India’s effort at tackling the issue.
**About World No Tobacco Day**
The World Health Organisation in 1987 introduced World No Tobacco Day to draw global attention to the tobacco epidemic and inform the public about the dangers of using tobacco. In 1987, the World Health Assembly passed a Resolution calling for April 7, 1988, to be “a world no-smoking day.”
In 1988, another resolution was passed that called for celebrating World No Tobacco Day, every year on 31 May.
The theme for this year is “commit to quit” as it has been observed that the COVID-19 pandemic has led millions of tobacco users to want to quit.
**Youth and tobacco**
Youth are the most vulnerable population group that get exposed to tobacco consumption. They are prone to get influence by peer pressure, advertisements, and promotional activities.
According to WHO, a vast majority of smokers begin using tobacco products well before the age of 18 years. It was also predicted that if the pattern seen nowadays continued, a lifetime of tobacco use would result in the deaths of 250 million children and young people alive today, most of them in developing countries.
It has cited reasons such as cultural and religious norms, availability of different types of tobacco products, tobacco control policies, and strategies, tobacco industry behaviour, advertising, promotion, and marketing as some of the reason which determines tobacco use among the youth.
**Ill effects of tobacco consumption**
In India, people consume tobacco in different forms, in form of bidis, cigarettes, and dry tobacco leaves. It is responsible for about 3,500 daily deaths in the country.
Tobacco consumption is a major risk factor for cancer, cardiovascular diseases (CVD), diabetes, chronic lung disease, stroke, infertility, blindness, tuberculosis (TB), oral cavity, etc.
Moreover, 50% of cancers in males and 20% cancers in females;
40% of TB and other related diseases are caused due to tobacco use.
**Covid-19 and tobacco consumption**
The World Health Organisation Director-General, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus has warned that people who smoke tobacco have upto 50% higher risk of developing serious illnesses and dying due to Covid-19.
The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare also warned against the use of any tobacco products. Experts too have confirmed that smokers are more likely to develop severe symptoms or die from COVID-19, as it primarily attacks the lungs.
Further smoking products such as water pipes or hookah often involve the sharing of mouth-pieces and hoses, which could facilitate the transmission of COVID-19 in communal and social settings.
**India’s effort to beat tobacco consumption**
India has framed laws and guidelines to help its citizens give up tobacco consumption. It has taken various initiatives in this direction too.
Laws like Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products (Packaging and Labelling), Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products (Prohibition of Advertisement and Regulation of Trade and Commerce, Production, Supply and Distribution) Act, 2003, Prohibition of Electronic Cigarettes (Production, Manufacture, Import, Export, Transport, Sale, Distribution, Storage and Advertisement) Act, 2019, Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2015, Food Safety and Standards (Prohibition and Restrictions on Sales) Regulations, 2011 govern various aspects of tobacco production and consumption in the country.
**National Tobacco Control Programme (NTCP)**
In addition to the laws, the Government of India, in 2007 launched the National Tobacco Control Programme (NTCP)to create awareness about the harmful effects of tobacco consumption, help people quit tobacco use, and facilitate the implementation of strategies for prevention and control of tobacco advocated by WHO Framework Convention of Tobacco Control.
NTCP is implemented through a three-tier structure – National Tobacco Control Cell (NTCC) at the Central level, State Tobacco Control Cell (STCC) at the State level, and District Tobacco Control Cell (DTCC) at the District level.
The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare has also provided an all-India quitline number for people who want to seek counselling on the telephone by an expert.
-Smoking in public places is prohibited and is also punishable by law in India.
– Selling tobacco products to and by minors (less than 18 years of age) is prohibited. One can be punished for doing so in the country.
– It is mandatory for companies to display pictorial warnings on tobacco product packages.
– It is a punishable offence to sell tobacco products within 100 yards of Educational Institutions.
– Direct/Indirect advertisements of tobacco product including sponsorship and promotion is also prohibited in the country and a punishable offence.
**Benefits of quitting tobacco use**
According to the National Tobacco Control Programme’s document, quitting tobacco can have numerous benefits on the individual. In 8 hours of quitting tobacco, the oxygen level return to normal; in 24 hours, the risk of heart attack begins to decrease; and in 72 hours, lung function improves.
Moreover, in 1-9 months, coughing and shortness of breath in a tobacco user decreases; in 12 months, the risk of heart disease is half as compared to tobacco users.
The risk of getting a stroke reduces In 5 years and in 10 years, the risk of lung cancer is less than half as compared to tobacco users.
In addition to this, quitting tobacco also adds years to one’s life and saves money in medical treatment of diseases caused by tobacco consumption.