New Delhi: Saif Ali Khan publicly declared his plan to quit smoking after a mild lung complication, but looks like that hasn’t impressed the capital’s young brigade much as it is determined to make Delhi the tobacco capital of the country.
According to estimates released by the World Lung Foundation, 31% men and 7% women in the capital, most of whom are students of Delhi University, are smokers.
About 5,500 adolescents take their first hesitant puffs before substantiating the 40 lakh (under-15) smokers’ population in India presently.
With 90% lung cancer cases ascribed to tobacco consumption, and with a large number of young people taking to smoking, tobacco deaths in India may exceed 4100/day by 2020.
As part of its campaign to promote lung health, the World Lung Foundation -South Asia (WLF-SA) in its annual General Body meeting held on 25August, 2007 have decided to step up awareness and prevention campaigns in the area of lung health with special focus on tobacco control.
According to Dr GR Khatri President-WLF-SA, “globally about 5 million people die every year on account of tobacco related causes and these deaths far outnumber all deaths on account of TB and HIV”.
WLF-SA formulated a two-year project that targets at making the capital’s North Campus a tobacco-free zone. A package of strengthened awareness campaigns including street shows, hoardings, group sensitization and designation of nodal tobacco-free officers in every college will be mounted and duly supported by a team of volunteers who are non-smokers. All canteen staff and karamcharis will also be included and a nodal unit for coordination with colleges will be created at the University level.
Vendors solely trading in tobacco in North Campus will be asked to switch to another trade. The rehabilitation will include counseling, making them aware of existing legal provisions and making available need-based support in the form of micro financing.
In the area of capacity building, WLF-SA will continue to hold Continuing Medical Education activities (CME’s) emphasizing adoption of a public health approach by health professionals in the field of lung health, across the country.
Meanwhile, interventions by the Government of India include various legal provisions in the NCT of Delhi. These have empowered all gazetted officers and senior officers of autonomous bodies working in Delhi to enforce existing legal provisions against tobacco consumption.
WLF-SA plans to undertake pilot projects by addressing identified constraints in implementation of existing ban in 3-4 hospitals of Delhi. Successful experience will then be carried forward to other public sector institutions/places.