The health ministry is now planning a campaign on social media due to the alarming increase in use of tobacco products by the youth and women. Former Indian cricket player, Rahul Dravid is featured as the anti-tobacco ambassador.
B P Sharma, secretary to the ministry of health and family welfare said, "The growing number of youth and women consuming tobacco in some form is a cause of grave concern and the anti-tobacco campaigns need to target them."
According to a senior official, "While anti-tobacco campaign will continue in newspapers, radio jingles and television, focus will be more on social media."
Several tobacco control studies have revealed that women start use of tobacco at an early age and out of 34.6% tobacco users, 20.3% are females. Estimates show over 5,500 youth start using tobacco every day. Nearly 26% of females start tobacco use before the age of 15, whereas the average age of initiation of tobacco use is 17.8 years.
The ministry released public service advertisements and posters on tobacco control run in collaboration with the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the Public Health Foundation of India (PHFI).
"We are trying to study the impact of such campaigns and if there has been any reduction in number of tobacco product users because of these campaigns. This will help us sharpen our programmes," said C K Mishra, additional secretary to the ministry.
Though the government has taken a lot of stringent measures to control smoking, the proposed amendments to the Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products Act, 2003 still remains halfway due to obligations from business administrators. The proposed changes to the law suggest changes like raising the minimum age for smoking, a ban on any kind of advertisement on tobacco products and higher penalty on violations.
According to PHFI, 90% of all oral cancers are caused due to smokeless tobacco use, over 50% of all cancers in males and 25% of them in females can be attributed to tobacco use.