India has the highest number of oral cancer cases in the world out of which 90 per cent have been reported due to tobacco-related diseases, according to a World Health Organisation (WHO) survey report. The report said more than 2,200 Indians die each day from a tobacco-related cases and in 2010, an estimated ten lakh people will die due to the killer disease. Every day, 55,000 Indian youths start tobacco use, the report further said.
In view of the growing tobacco menace, a one-day Media Advocacy Workshop on Tobacco Control was jointly organised by Itanagar Press Club (IPC) and Voluntary Health Association of India (VHAI) here recently.
In the meeting both the print and electronic media unanimously observed that strict enforcement of section 4 of the Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products (Prohibition of Advertisement and Regulation of Trade and Commerce, Production, Supply and Distribution) Act, 2003, should be ensured.
Highlighting different aspects of tobacco in terms of health hazards and socio-economic impact, epidemiologist Dr L Jampa informed that India is the second largest consumer and is placed third in respect of tobacco production.
He informed that in 17 out of 29 states of India, tobacco use is more than 69 per cent. The Northeastern region exhibits highest rates of tobacco use – in Mizoram more than 80 per cent of men use some form of tobacco, followed by Tripura (76 per cent) and Assam (72). Arunachal Pradesh is the second largest state whos people chew tobacco products after Mizoram.
Dr Jampa informed that Arunachal Pradesh has been taking steps to control tobacco being used in the state in various forms.
He said second hand smoking (SHS), also called passive smoking, was a major cause of disease, death and disability among non-smokers. SHS is a hazardous mixture which contains over 4,000 chemicals such as cadmium, lead, arsenic, benzene, carbon monoxide, out of which over 50 are carcinogenic for humans. Apart from this, some of the chemicals in SHS are irritants and systemic toxins whereas some are reproductive and developmental toxins, Dr Jampa explained.
Referring to the National Family Health Survey-3 report, conducted in 2005-06, the epidemiologist said, ”India has a very high prevalence of tobacco use with 57 per cent of males and 11 per cent of females using tobacco in some form. Tobacco use is more prevalent among the illiterate – 78 per cent uneducated men and 18 per cent of women use tobacco, whereas 38 per cent educated men and 1 per cent of educated women use tobacco, he informed.
According to the Global Youth Tobacco Survey 2006, a total of 36.9 per cent children in India initiate smoking before the age of 10 years, Dr Jampa said.
Calling upon the media to perform a pro-active rule to check and control use of tobacco products, Dr BB Rai, Executive Director, Sikkim VHA, said the use of tobacco products has been a part of socio-culture life of the people in Sikkim. But VHAS (Volutary Health Association of Sikkim) succeeded in spreading awareness among the people against use of tobacco to some extent, he informed.
IPC president and senior journalist Pradeep Kumar felt that active involvement of media and the state government would be able to implement different tobacco control measures.