Shillong: The Northeastern States are amongst the top consumers of tobacco products in the country with Mizoram earning the dubious distinction of having the largest number of tobacco product consumers in India.
In Assam, 71
In other Northeastern States the percentage of the population using tobacco products is: 32 pc Meghalaya, 48 pc Tripura and 32 pc Manipur.
In an advocacy workshop to help implement tobacco control laws, officials from the North East dwelt upon ways to sensitize the people on tobacco use and its ill effects.
“Two thousand five hundred people die everyday due to tobacco use related diseases. Around 5,000 to 6,000 teenagers start using tobacco products everyday,” Principal Secretary Health, AK Srivastava said.
According to a 2003 report, the country spent Rs 30,800 crore on medical care for people suffering from use of tobacco products. “The tobacco industry contributed half that amount to the national exchequer in that period,” Dr RP Bashist from the Union Ministry of Health said.
He said the Health department would conduct awareness programme on implementing the Tobacco Control Act, 2003. Under the Act smoking is banned in public places and sale of tobacco is banned within 100 metres from educational institutions amongst other provisions, he added.
“Tobacco control measures require a multi-sectoral approach involving State, Central and other stakeholders for tobacco control in India,” Srivastava said.
He added tobacco control was more of a “social legislation” as use of tobacco is connected with social ethos in many cases. “Nothing would change overnight, but we hope through education use of tobacco can be decreased,” Srivastava added.
Meanwhile, the Union Health Ministry is trying to finds ways to discourage tobacco companies from using surrogate advertisement of their companies.
“It’s a tricky situation but the government is working to bar companies in using surrogate advertisements of their products,” the Health officials added.
Date: July 15, 2009