As the world ‘unites to end TB’ on World TB Day, March 24, like-minded bodies in Kerala have come together to strongly pitch for 100 percent tobacco smoke-free public places.
The Indian Chest Society, South Zone; TB Association of Kerala and Tobacco Free Kerala call for both individual and collective tobacco control measures to wipe out drug-resistant tuberculosis.
The WHO attributes 40 per cent of the TB burden in India to smoking. Studies have also shown that people who smoke have approximately twice the risk of tuberculosis and thrice the risk of tuberculosis infection.
Dr. DJ Christopher, Chairperson, Southern Region, Indian Chest Society is vocal in calling for coordinated efforts to achieve 100 per cent tobacco smoke-free public places to protect lung health.
“Over the years, Kerala has made great strides in curtailing smoking in public places. The next step forward is to work towards public places that are 100 per cent smoke-free as mandated by the WHO. Such a measure would greatly contribute to overcoming the scourge of TB in Kerala. Kerala with is high literacy rate is in the best position to show the way for the rest of the country,”
“It is not very widely known that tobacco smoking increases risk of developing TB disease and smokers has worse disease and lung damage and respond to treatment poorly when compared to non-smokers. Even after successfully being cured from TB, the risk of the disease recurring in twice as high. It is important to understand and propagate the message about this lethal effect of tobacco as we observe the world TB day,” Dr Christopher, also the Prof & Head, Pulmonary Medicine, Christian Medical College, Vellore said.
“Studies have also shown that second hand smoke may increase susceptibility to the conditions such as cancers and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Children are particularly vulnerable and become more prone to respiratory infections and wheezing,” Dr Christopher added.
Dr M Sunil Kumar, Honorary Secretary, TB Association of Kerala said, “General symptoms of TB include fever, cough with sputum or blood stained, loss of weight and evening rise of temperature. It goes beyond doubt that smoking aggravates TB symptoms and hence a patient should not smoke. At the individual level, every possible effort should be made to stop smoking to protect oneself from TB.”
According to the latest published figures of the Government of India’s Revised National Tuberculosis Control Programme, as many as 14,147 persons in Kerala were diagnosed with TB, and 22,785 patients registered for treatment in 2015.
Dr AS Pradeep Kumar, former Addl Director of Health Services and Advisor, Tobacco Free Kerala, citing a study conducted in Chennai said, “50 percent of deaths among male TB patients in India were among smokers.”
Explaining the concept of 100 per cent tobacco smoke-free, Dr Pradeep Kumar said, “It involves creating an environment where tobacco smoke cannot be seen, smelled, sensed, or measured. Presence of cigarette/bidi butts or ash would also not make an area 100 per cent smoke-free.”
Smoking aids such as ashtrays, matchboxes or lighters in the public place are in violation of Section 4 of Indian tobacco control law COTPA, 2003. Warning signages prohibiting smoking in a public place should be put up in accordance with size and colour dimensions prescribed by the Act, Dr Pradee p Kumar pointed out.
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