On the eve of World No Tobacco Day, they also asked the Centre to ensure that tobacco control laws and policies are made stronger and implemented effectively.
Noted epidemiologist and public health expert Chandrakant Lahariya pointed out that children and non-tobacco users too visit the point of sale (POS) and are at risk of getting addicted and giving relaxation on POS is like inviting a tobacco pandemic.
He also brought to the notice of the government about the tobacco threat on the people’s health in the wake of COVID-19.
He cited various studies showing how tobacco users have become vulnerable to the deadly infection during the pandemic.
“Every life is precious and we are losing 1.3 million Indians every year to tobacco-related diseases. Apart from cancer, tobacco is also a major cause of a wide range of chronic and life-threatening conditions like lung diseases, cardiovascular diseases, and strokes to name a few,” he said.
The epidemiologist backed the demand to ban designated smoking areas in the airports, hotels and restaurants, as they were a health risk to non-smokers.
Dr Uma Kumar, HOD of Rheumatology, AIIMS, New Delhi, said tobacco companies that make products like cigarettes and gutkha are specifically targeting teenagers and kids.
“They prominently display their advertisements near school and colleges so that they are visible to the impressionable minds. These should be completely banned,” he said, stressing that it is very important to save the youth from these addictive products.
Dr Kumar also highlighted the harms of passive smoking to non-smokers, especially children and women. “Doing away with Designated Smoking Areas (DSA) can be a game changer in the direction of health of the vulnerable population and making India’s public places 100 per cent smoke-free. “Tobacco products cause serious ailments like cancer, claiming almost 13 lakh lives in the country. For a healthy India, it is critical that tobacco control law and policies are made stronger and implemented effectively.” she reiterated.
Communication expert Neelkanth Bakshi also touched upon various anti-tobacco measures taken by the Centre and said Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been very particular about the health of people, particularly youth.
“He was the one who made Yoga a mass movement across the world. I am sure that he’s aware of the ill-effect of tobacco on the people. The government will certainly sooner or later come out with law to curb the menace caused by these cancer causing products,” said Bakshi.