World No Tobacco Day

by Savitha C Muppala on  May 30, 2008 at 4:17 PM Health In Focus
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May 31, 2008

'Ban marketing and advertisements of tobacco products for a tobacco-free-youth'

'Tobacco-free-youth' is a befitting theme for the anti-tobacco initiatives of World No Tobacco Day as thefirst puff of tobacco taken during youth, most often continues till the last breath, The Day, seeks to continuethe fight against tobacco products, by attacking the root of the problem - To STOP advertisements and publicity of tobacco products and to focus on youth as the starting point of the fight against tobacco.

Tobacco industries cough up billions of dollars on marketing and advertising of tobacco products. There is conclusive evidence of the grave impact of advertising on young impressionable minds, which leads them to try out the vice. Once they are hooked, it is an addiction capable of consuming their lives.

The objectives for this year seek to benefit an estimated 1.8 billion young people worldwide, between the 10-24 years age bracket. The bulk of tobacco users, according to research, are initiated into the habit in their teenage years. Translating it into numbers, it is an estimated 5500 youths roped into the vortex every single day.

Discerning youth of today, who are not information- challenged, must also read between the lines of beautifully- crafted marketing strategies, advertisements and promotional campaigns of tobacco products.

Poison in a Puff
World No Tobacco Day
World No Tobacco Day

• Welcome to the world of nicotine, known for its addictive tendencies; chances of addiction are greater in the young.

• Giving the heady feeling are 4000 potentially toxic chemicals found in cigarette smoke, that get sucked into the system with a single puff.

• Tobacco lowers immunity by disabling neutrophils, white blood cells. This increases the chances of falling prey to a host of infections.

• The function of heart and lungs are on a downslide following tobacco use.

• Prepare to face the fourteen- fold risk of dying due to cancer and a double risk of a heart attack. Smoking accounts for 90% of lung cancer cases.

In a nutshell, it is an invitation to a 'sickening' world

Beedis make Baddies

India produces the largest amount of tobacco in the world, at a staggering 700 million Kilograms annually.

A new report has also suggested that nearly 100 million people from the poor and illiterate class smoke hand rolled cigarettes, called 'beedis'. More than 200,000 tuberculosis deaths are caused due to beedi smoking.

According to Health Secretary Naresh Dayal, nearly 85% of the beedi in the world is produced in India with 290,000 beedi making units. "Beedi is the most widely used form of tobacco. Beedi smokers with tuberculosis are at three times higher risk of death compared to TB patients who are non-smokers," Dayal said.

The people working in beedi factories also suffer serious health issues.

Beedis and chewed tobacco form a sizable portion of the tobacco use in India, with cigarettes taking 20% of the market. Beedis are known to promote smoking among children between 8-10 years, especially from the tribal areas.

Nearly 24 lakh people are battling cancer in India attributed to the effect of tobacco, according a WHO estimate.

Impact of Advertising on Youth

A study conducted in India by researchers from The University of Texas School of Public Health has blamed advertising and marketing of tobacco products for the increase in the consumption of tobacco among children, even as early as 11 yrs.

Cheryl Perry, Ph.D., professor and regional dean of The University of Texas School of Public Health and Team leader of the study said, "As India becomes more westernized, more teens will use tobacco."

Seconding this opinion, Melissa Stigler, Ph.D., assistant professor at the UT School of Public Health and study co-author, said, "The current study is the first in India to demonstrate a strong, dose-response relationship between exposure and receptivity to tobacco advertising and promotions and tobacco use among Indian youth. These associations clearly suggest a need to strengthen policy and program-based interventions to reduce tobacco use among youth in India."

According to Stigler, following a ban on tobacco advertising in India in 2004, tobacco companies found new ways to publicize. Sponsorship of events by tobacco product companies began. Not only that, lifestyle malls began to house mobile smoking lounges, providing cool comfort to the smokers, thus abetting an unhealthy trend. Youth were also seen sporting 'T' shirts with logo of tobacco companies.

Clear the Air

A new research published in the New England Journal of Medicine has warned the loss of one million people by 2010 due to smoking. To buck this looming threat, it is imperative to give out the right message to impressionable minds.

We need to discourage publicity and advertisement of tobacco products. Education and awareness of risks is key to keeping out tobacco; awareness campaigns in schools and colleges will help clear the air.

With the powerful influence of media and films, actors have a powerful role to play with their larger- than- life image. Usage of tobacco products, especially cigarette smoking, is associated with style, which children and youth find captivating. Such impressions wreck havoc, for it is said that 52 per cent of children take to smoking, in an effort to ape celebrities.

Today, many bollywood film actors have become brand ambassadors for anti-smoking initiatives.

Governments and policy makers must enforce a ban on advertisements for tobacco products. Surrogate advertising must be shunned with vehemence. Taxes on tobacco must be increased, all of which can give the right environment for the citizens of tomorrow.

Source: Medindia

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