9 Sep : Reiterating the Government’s commitment towards tobacco control measures, the Union Minister for Health and Family Welfare, Dr. Anbumani Ramadoss has said that the Government will continue with its anti-tobacco drive in the form of ban of smoking in public places from 2nd October, pictorial warning on tobacco products from 1st December, tobacco cessation clinics and a concentrated school health programme.
Inaugurating the National Advocacy Workshop on Tobacco Control Laws and Related Issues in India, here today Dr. Ramadoss said that through awareness drive, silent majority will be able to overcome the propaganda of noisy pro-smoking minority. “Forty percent of all our health problems are tobacco related. It is time to scare the light out of tobacco users by highlighting the health hazards”, Dr. Ramadoss said.
Focusing on the tobacco menace among the youth, the Health Minister pointed out that 13% children in the age group of 13-16 years consume tobacco. In order to address this major concern the Health Ministry has allocated Rs. 22 lakhs for each district for creating awareness about the adverse effects of tobacco in the country especially targeting the schools.
Dr. Ramadoss told media persons that Government will establish smoking cessation clinics to help those who want to kick the habit. To begin with Government will start with 100 clinics and will ask medical colleges and district hospitals to open such speciality clinics. Within two years 1000 such clinics should be in place, said the Minister.
Dr. Ramadoss said that tobacco growers will be given support for alternate crop patterns. In this context the Minister mentioned that the Ministry has received Rs. 600 crores for promotion of medicinal plants in the country. National Medicinal Plants Boards and National Tobacco Board will make efforts to wean away tobacco growing farmers from tobacco to medicinal plants. The Health Minister said that the Government is working towards making it mandatory to mention nicotine and tar content on the packing of tobacco products. For this purpose five new labs are being established in various parts of the country.
Minister for State for Health and Family Welfare, Smt. Panabaka Lakshmi who was guest of honour at the inauguration said that tobacco is a major health problem with very high socio-economic and health cost and there is a need for concerted efforts to control this menace. Director General Health Services, Dr. R.K. Srivastava also addressed the gathering.
The National Advocacy Workshop is a part of one national and five regional workshops planned to sensitize the diverse stakeholders at national and state level about tobacco control laws and related issues. The advocacy drive expects to achieve sensitization of 750 key personnel in the national and state governments and civil society groups on the anti-tobacco laws and related enforcement strategies.