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‘Pledge for Life’ campaign for making Maharashtra Tobacco Free

–          72000 die every year in Maharashtra  

Pune, October 4, 2018:  If the Education Department with Police do firm enforcement of The Cigarettes & Other Tobacco Products Act (COTPA) and JJ Act, then control on sale and consumption of tobacco is possible. The role of media is very important in this work.  This was the outcome of the media workshop organized on Thursday launching the “Pledge for Life – Tobacco Free Youth” Campaign in a city hotel on behalf of Sambandh Health Foundation (SHF), Tata Trusts, Caring Friends and Voice of Tobacco Victims (VoTV). Education Department has been working since 2015 to make school campuses tobacco-free. The Pledge for Life campaign intends to make youth as the leaders of an anti-tobacco movement.

Voice of tobacco (VOTV) Patron and Ruby Hall Clinic cancer expert Dr Ankit Shah said children can be saved from this addiction with prevention strategies. He said that Rs 1,04,500 crores is spent annually in India to treat diseases caused by tobacco. Speaking about ill-effects, he said tobacco impacts every organ of a human body.

SHF Partner, Deepak Chhibba explained that as per WHO’s MPOWER and Indian law COTPA 2003, all educational institutes should be tobacco free that is there should be no sale or usage on campus. He added that under COTPA every educational institute should have warning signage. Maharashtra Education Department has been working diligently to make this happen. Outside the campus, sale within 100 yards is prohibited under COTPA and this law needs to be enforced by the Police. He added that section 77 of the JJ Act imposes severe penalties – upto 7 years jail and Rs 1 lac fine if anyone gives or causes to give tobacco to minors. Strict enforcement of this Act will protect children. The Pledge for Life campaign works with youth and also Education and Police Departments to protect youth from starting tobacco. 

Dr Alok Lathi, another cancer expert, Lathi Hospital  and VoTV Patron talked about the prevention strategies being better than cure and Pledge for Life campaign, which aims at saving children from tobacco will be very effective.  In India every year around 13.5 lakh people die due to tobacco related diseases and 26.7 crore people consume tobacco. He added that one-third or more of tobacco users die an early death. He expressed concern that everyday around 5500 children start consuming tobacco in some form, whereas only 3% are able to quit. So reducing initiation, which is the target of the Pledge for Life campaign, is the best prevention strategy.

FACTS

Maharashtra has 2.4 crore tobacco users and an estimated 72000 die every year due to tobacco use.

SHF’s Deepak Chhibba said according to Global Adult Tobacco Survey (GATS) 2016-17, in Maharashtra state 26.6% of the population people (aged 15+)consume tobacco in some form. Of these 17 lac (1.9%) smoke cigarettes and another 17 lac (1.9%) smoke beedi, but 24.4% (2.2 crore) use smokeless tobacco. 530 children are initiate tobacco usage every day. There are very few interventions to stop usage of smokeless tobacco. 

‘Pledge for Life’ campaign: is all about saving children from initiating tobacco use. Children are informed about the ill-effects of tobacco and administered an oath that they will not touch tobacco and also discourage their family and friends from doing so.

26.5 lakh students took anti-tobacco pledge in Maharashtra

The ‘Pledge for Life’ campaign has been started in the state to make schools tobacco free and make teachers and students say “No to Tobacco’.

As a first activity under this campaign, an anti-tobacco film was shown to teachers and students on the occasion of World Head and Neck Cancer Day on July 27. This was followed by an anti-tobacco pledge, which was taken by 26.5 lakh students from over 24,000 schools in eight Districts of Maharashtra.

According to the Education Department, 851,947 students in Jalgaon district, 558,393 students in Nashik district, 380,000 students in Amravati district, 237,000 students in Akola district, 204,000 students in Nagpur district, 197,192 students in Chandrapur district, 140,275 students in Buldhana district and 76,984 students in Wardha district participated in this campaign.

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