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Indian government should enable more smokers to quit smoking
The World No Tobacco Day was celebrated on 31 May 2013 and this year the theme was 'ban tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship'. Tobacco, which kills nearly six million people every year and in this more than 600,000 people, are non-smokers. Smoking causes 71 percent of lung cancer and 42 percent of chronic respiratory diseases.

According to a report by World Health Organization (WHO), in India, around seven percent deaths in an year are attributed to tobacco. According to a survey conducted by Global Adult Tobacco Survey (GATS), conducted by the government of India in 2010 in collaboration with WHO and CDC, which covered all states and Union territories in India, states that 35 percent of the Indian population consumes tobacco in different forms, and the most prevalent form is smokeless tobacco.

The basic problem is that, people don't have awareness about tobacco, almost half of the smoking population in India, thinks that smoking within limits is not harmful. This was revealed by a survey done by ICICI Lombard Smoking Habits. It also stated that 67 percent of the smokers starts this habit at an age of 16 to 20 years. Bangalore is the city with highest smokers, that is 43 percent and Delhi is the lowest with 35 percent.

This year on the World No Tobacco Day, the main concept is to create awareness on the ill effects of the tobacco. And the Bollywood fraternity also took part in this event and Vivek Oberoi (the brand ambassador for Tobacco Control) said, “Smoking and tobacco are not only in personal but social evils as well. I was extremely concerned to learn about the increase in tobacco use on all age groups which is a matter of great public health concern and I believe it is our collective moral duty to address this issue. I am proud to be tobacco free and pledge my whole-hearted support to this campaign,” reported TOI.

The awareness drive on tobacco was also conducted in different states in different types on the eve of World No Tobacco Day. The members of a small village in Andhra Pradesh, called Pongalipaka have vowed to be tobacco free on the 25th anniversary of World No Tobacco Day, and they also planned some programs to focus on the issue of awareness on the ill effects of Tobacco. The village sarpanch, U Demudu N Satyanaryana plays a major role in this awareness run. All the shops selling tobacco in the village were asked to stop selling tobacco and they adopted a resolution to impose penalty on the person found smoking or chewing tobacco, reported India Today.

Another south Indian city Chennai is also involved in the fight against consumption of tobacco. There people were seen doing some street plays and displaying anti-tobacco placards in different parts of the city. Dr. P Vadivelan, Joint Director of Public Health said, “At the Marina beach, we'll have paintings and a massive sand sculpture to create awareness among the public.

Last year many states have banned the gutka and pan masala such as Madya Pradesh, Kerala, Mizoram, Gujarat, Bihar, Rajasthan, Maharashtra, Haryana, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Tamil Nadu and Delhi. But still there a lot to do in this sector, the government needs to establish more and more economical rehabilitation centers to help addicts. In the last 12 months 38 percent smokers made an attempt to quit smoking and out of that only 9 percent smokers took counseling and 4 percent used pharmacotherapy. All this is happening because of lack of infrastructure.

India is facing many challenges to eradicate tobacco, but is failing to do so. But, fortunately we have many strong tobacco control leaders and advocates, and some committed organizations both government and non-government which are working on it and we are very optimistic that India will overcome this problem shortly.

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