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Gogoi takes lead in anti-tobacco drive

Jan. 16: The Union health ministry will organise a campaign for tobacco-free Northeast in the city on February 27 during which over 10,000 youths and school students will take “no tobacco-use” pledge.

The regional director of state health services, Parthojyoti Gogoi, today told this correspondent that health ministers of all northeastern states and other stakeholders would take part in the campaign.

Health department officials said the campaign is aimed at creating public awareness about tobacco use in the region and reduce health costs.

“The campaign will be launched through a mega event on February 27 and 28. A walk with a slogan—‘I said no to tobacco’ will be organised in which chief minister Tarun Gogoi will administer ‘no-tobacco use’ pledge to youths and students. The event will create mass awareness and sensitise the stakeholders against tobacco use,” an official said.

The chief minister today announced that he would be the chief ambassador of the campaign and called for a coalition of the northeastern states to fight tobacco use.

“Legislations on ban of smokeless tobacco products and higher taxation are, no doubt, effective, but it is difficult to fight the problem unless we make the people aware. We must stress and ensure that there is education on health issues. The campaign should try to spread the message about ill-effects of tobacco on our children,” Gogoi said this during a meeting with officials of Union ministry of health and family welfare, state health department and others here.

The team was led by joint secretary of the ministry, Shakuntala Gamlin, and also included Sanjay Seth of Campaign for Tobacco-free Kids, Pankaj Chaturvedi of Tata Memorial Hospital, Parthajyoti Gogoi, mission director of National Rural Health Mission (NRHM), Assam, Prateek Hajela, besides others.

The campaign would be kicked off in the city as people from across the region stay here and it would be gradually organised across the region, an official said.

A sensitisation workshop for legislators on health costs of tobacco use and training workshops for those involving in advocacy of anti-tobacco campaigns will be held.

The chief minister also stressed joint effort of the state governments in the Northeast as the northeastern states are among the high tobacco-consuming states in the country.

The joint meeting expressed concern over rising cases of cancer caused by use of tobacco in the Northeast, particularly among the youths.

The region has a high rate of tobacco consumption in the country with nearly every second man and a third woman addicted to tobacco. This has led to rising incidents of tobacco-related diseases and deaths caused by cancer, heart attack and stroke.

According to health experts, tobacco use causes 100 per cent poor oral health, 90 per cent of oral cancer, 80 per cent lung cancer, 70 per cent lung diseases and 60 per cent heart attacks. There is increasing incidents of lung cancer among women in the northeastern states because of active and passive smoking.


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