Dr. Anbumani Ramadoss, Union Minister for Health and Family Welfare, is keen on eradicating the "cigarette-habit" from India. Following the plans of a ban on smoking in public places, Dr. Ramadoss has now allocated Rs. 22 lakhs for each district. The requisite sum should be utilized to create awareness on the health hazards of smoking. This initiative is especially aimed at schools to prevent children from falling into nicotine addiction.
Inaugurating the National Advocacy Workshop on Tobacco Control Laws and Related Issues in India, here Dr. Ramadoss said that 13 per cent children in the age group of 13-16 years consume tobacco. Through the awareness drive, silent majority will be able to overcome the propaganda of noisy pro-smoking minority.
"Forty percent of all our health problems are tobacco related. It is time to scare the life out of tobacco users by highlighting the health hazards", he added.
He said that Government will establish smoking cessation clinics to help those who want to give up the habit. To begin with Government will start with 100 clinics and will ask medical colleges and district hospitals to open such speciality clinics. Within two years 1000 such clinics should be in place.
The tobacco growers will be given support for alternate crop patterns. In this context he said that the Ministry has received Rs. 600 crores for promotion of medicinal plants in the country. National Medicinal Plants Boards and National Tobacco Board will make efforts to wean away tobacco growing farmers from tobacco to medicinal plants.
He said that the Government is working towards making it mandatory to mention nicotine and tar content on the packing of tobacco products. For this purpose five new labs are being established in various parts of the country.
The two-day workshop aims to build awareness about tobacco control issues including the existing legislation and to improve enforcement capacity of the provisions of the Indian Tobacco Control Act, 2003.
The workshop comes in the aftermath of announcement of the ban on smoking from October 2.
The workshop is the part of the Health Ministry's exercise to engage various stakeholders. The Ministry has planned one national level advocacy workshop and five regional workshops to raise the level of awareness.
Tobacco is the most common preventable cause of death in the country. The latest round of NFHS-3 (2005-06) indicates an increasing prevalence of tobacco consumption in India, with 57 per cent males and 10.9 per cent females reputedly consuming tobacco in some form.
The Global Youth Tobacco Survey (GYTS) 2006 also indicates a decrease in the age of onset of tobacco consumption in the age group of 13-15 years. As per report of the Tobacco Control of India 2004, nearly one million people die due to tobacco consumption every year.