HYDERABAD: Andhra Pradesh accounts for 17 per cent of the smokers in the country and among youngsters, “having a fag” is a fad. Companies are also fuelling this habit by promoting smoking indirectly and it is high time we put a full stop to it -- this was the message that participants and organisers sent out at a programme organised at the Ravindra Bharati on the occasion of the World No Tobacco Day on Thursday.
The programme, organised by the State Tobacco Control Cell and the Directorate of Public Health & Family Welfare, featured skits and educational movies on all the aspects of tobacco consumption. To increase awareness among people, the government too has launched a mobile campaign on the harmful effects of tobacco and it will be carried far and wide in June in Hyderabad.
Health Minister Dr DL Ravindra Reddy, who inaugurated the event by flagging off the mobile campaign against smoking, said to continue efforts to curb tobacco consumption, there should be a change among the leadership that leads the campaign against tobacco use. He called upon policy makers to understand the compulsions that make people tobacco users before addressing the issue.
Stressing that such a change is not an easy one in a developing country like India, he emphasised the political dimensions involved in tobacco cultivation.
Pankaj Dwivedi, chief secretary, Government of Andhra Pradesh, said, “we have to look into the causes of tobacco usage and think of new strategies to curb it. If for example, smoking is due to stress, we have to provide them with an alternative like yoga and meditation.” Ratna Kishore, Principal Secretary, (health), called for policy level changes in implementing various sections of the Control of Tobacco Products Act.
Final year students of the Army Dental College, Osmania Medical College and other colleges attended the event. The skits enacted were humorous in nature and movies with footage of patients suffering from cancer were also shown to the audience. “We are here to support the campaign and promote awareness,” said Bhavna, a final-year student of Army Dental College. She believes the decision to smoke is up to the individual but it is imperative that people first know the dangers of smoking before lighting a cigarette.
Her batchmate Nagraj is of view that youngsters will always smoke because they do not find other ways to cope with stress, and are not ready to take up other ways to handle stress.