World no tobacco day: Health experts seek ban on advertisement of tobacco products
New Delhi: Health experts and celebrities have urged the government to put an immediate ban on advertisement of tobacco products.
On the eve of World No Tobacco Day, they also asked the Centre to ensure that tobacco control law and policies are made stronger and implemented effectively.
Noted epidemiologist and public health expert Chandrakant Lahariya pointed out that children and non-tobacco users too visit the point of sale (POS) and are at risk of getting addicted and giving relaxation on POS is like inviting a tobacco pandemic.
He also brought to the notice of the government about the tobacco threat on the people’s health in the wake of COVID-19.
He cited various studies showing how tobacco users have become vulnerable to the deadly infection during the pandemic.
“Every life is precious and we are losing 1.3 million Indians every year to tobacco-related diseases. Apart from cancer, tobacco is also a major cause of a wide range of chronic and life-threatening conditions like lung diseases, cardiovascular diseases, and strokes to name a few,” he said.
The epidemiologist backed the demand to ban designated smoking areas in the airports, hotels and restaurants, as they were a health risk to non-smokers.
More than eight million people are killed across the globe every year due to tobacco use. Even cigarette smoking releases 84,000,000 tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. Tobacco smoke emits three different kinds of greenhouse gases, experts said.
“People are aware of the ill effects of tobacco on health. But that is only one facet. There is a strong need to spread awareness on how tobacco adversely affects the environment. From beginning to end, the tobacco cycle is an overwhelmingly polluting and damaging process.
“Air pollution caused by smoking springs to mind, but damage occurs across the entire supply chain, and is much more complex,” said Dr Ankit Gupta, Managing Director, The Park and Signature Group of Hospitals.
Renowned wrestler and actor Sangram Singh said there has been alarming evidence of widespread advertising and promotional activities that influences children to start smoking and potentially develop the habit for a lifetime addiction that could kill them. He expressed concern that despite the ban on tobacco advertisements, the industry is spending a hefty amounts on promotion of such items by adopting various marketing tactics.
“They eye youth as their probable client as they very well know that in a tobacco-addicted youth, they will have a life-time client. I request the government that such advertisements should be immediately prohibited,” he said at an event held here on the eve of World No Tobacco Day, according to a statement.
Dr Uma Kumar, HOD of Rheumatology, AIIMS, New Delhi, said tobacco companies that make products like cigarettes and gutkha are specifically targeting teenagers and kids.
“They prominently display their advertisements near school and colleges so that they are visible to the impressionable minds. These should be completely banned,” he said, stressing that it is very important to save the youth from these addictive products. Dr Kumar also highlighted the harms of passive smoking to non-smokers, especially children and women.
“Doing away with Designated Smoking Areas (DSA) can be a game changer in the direction of health of the vulnerable population and making India’s public places 100 per cent smoke-free.
“Tobacco products cause serious ailments like cancer, claiming almost 13 lakh lives in the country. For healthy India, it is critical that tobacco control law and policies are made stronger and implemented effectively. she reiterated.
Communication expert Neelkanth Bakshi also touched upon various anti-tobacco measures taken by the Centre and said Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been very particular about the health of people particularly youth.
“He was the one who made Yoga a mass movement across the world. I am sure that he’s aware of the ill-effect of tobacco on the people. The government will certainly sooner or later come out with law to curb the menace caused by these cancer causing products,” said Bakshi.
Smoking is the most common method of consuming tobacco. The agricultural product is often mixed with additives and then combusted. When the resulting smoke gets inhaled, it causes lung and respiratory issues, experts said.
“It’s also linked to 20 different malignancies, hypertension, kidney problems, and other illnesses. Tobacco is, therefore, a health threat in every way.
“It is critical to conduct more public awareness and education campaigns so that people understand that tobacco impairs their health both directly and indirectly,” said Dr (Col) R Ranga Rao, Chairman – Oncology, Paras Hospitals, Gurugram.
Dr Shuchin Bajaj, Founder Director, Ujala Cygnus Group of Hospitals said tobacco endemicity is one of the serious health threats in the world.
“The need of the hour is to discourage tobacco consumption. A blanket ban needs to be imposed on tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship.
“Even a tax increase in tobacco products leads to a decrease in the usage,” said Bajaj.