Alarm bells have been sounded on the high usage of tobacco in Meghalaya, a state with the highest incidence of oesophageal cancer in the country.
On the eve of the World No Tobacco Day, the Meghalaya government released statistics stating that the state ranks fifth with 47 per cent tobacco users and second with 31.6 per cent smokers in the Northeast. These figures are as per the Global Adult Tobacco Survey.
Each year, an estimated seven million people die of tobacco-related causes; 1.2 million die in India from smoking. Around 80 per cent of oral cancer is attributed to tobacco use. The average monthly expenditure on cigarettes for a daily smoker is Rs 1,192.
If the present pattern of use persists, tobacco use could lead to one billion premature deaths globally this century.
World No Tobacco Day will be observed on Friday with the theme Tobacco and Lung Health and the main goals include creation of awareness on the negative impact of tobacco on lung health, from cancer to chronic respiratory diseases.
The National Tobacco Control Programme (NTCP), National Health Mission, started in Meghalaya in 2013-14 under the 12th Five Year Plan.
The goals were to prevent initiation of tobacco use among youth and adults, promote quitting of tobacco use among adults and youth, eliminate exposure to tobacco smoke (second hand smoking), reduce demand of tobacco products through IEC campaigns, ban on tobacco advertisements, promotion of sponsorship (TAPS) and pack warning and reduce supply by restricting access to minors.
The state government, along with NTCP, has taken several initiatives in implementing this programme, the statement added.
A State-Level Coordination Committee and a District-Level Coordination Committee were constituted, comprising various stakeholders.
While smoking in public has been prohibited as per the Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products (Prohibition of Advertisement and Regulation of Trade and Commerce, Production, Supply and Distribution) Act, 2003, sale of tobacco products to minors and by minors is banned. The act bans sale of tobacco within 100 metres of educational institutions.
The state government said enforcement squads and heads of educational institutions have a major role to play in curbing the use of tobacco.
While several awareness programmes are being conducted in different schools to impart knowledge about the ill effects of tobacco, children have been encouraged to take a pledge against its use.