A strong fight against tobacco use that causes a host of terminal illnesses including cancers is the need of the hour, said Kerala Minister KK Shylaja Teacher while exhorting all to pledge against tobacco use that is a threat to development.
The Minister called for a targeted campaign to prevent youth from tobacco use initiation, as she inaugurated the state-level observance event of World No Tobacco Day (WNTD) 2017 here today.
Shylaja Teacher also spoke of the efforts to reorient Primary Health Centres to Family Health Centres and that efforts to curb tobacco use can begin through such centres, especially in rural areas where there is profuse prevalence of chewing tobacco.
Ban on e-cigarettes in Kerala is part of the Government’s efforts to control tobacco use. The messages disseminated as part of WNTD should be practiced in life, everyday, she added.
The Minister further inaugurated a year-long awareness programme against tobacco use mooted by the Directorate of Health Services. She donned the role of a magician by taking out a banner reading ‘Lahari Muktha Keralam, Sundara Keralam’ from an “empty” container given to her by magician Harris Thaha.
The Minister released a short film titled ‘Drug Terrorism’ produced by the Health Department featuring lead Malayalam actors including Mohanlal by handing over a copy to Jawahar Janard, Assistant Commissioner of Police, Chathanoor.
Director of Health Services Dr RL Sarita welcomed the audience and Aisha Baker, Division Councilor, Thiruvananthapuram Corporation made the presidential address.
Dr KR Thankappan, Emeritus Professor, Achutha Menon Centre, in his theme presentation said that families with any member having tobacco-induced cancers or cardiovascular disease are pushed to poverty. He rued that many are yet to see tobacco as a health problem and hence are slack in approaching cessation clinics for help. Tobacco kills silently and the health and economic burden it poses are enormous, he added.
Dr Ramadas K, Medical Superintendent, RCC said that 40 per cent of cancers among men and 20 per cent among women are caused due to tobacco use. Dr AS Pradeep Kumar, Senior Research Officer, Achutha Menon Centre highlighted the need to exercise caution about the ways of the pro-tobacco lobby.
Jawahar Janard said that COTPA crimes are reviewed in police officers’ conference and urged student volunteers to support the Police and Excise departments in enforcing the law.
Dr Nelson Joseph, a PG Student of Family Medicine and a social media proponent said that this emerging media could be leveraged to prevent tobacco use initiation, cessation and to keep going back after quitting.
Saju Itty, Executive Director, Kerala Voluntary Health Services; Johnson Edayaranmula, Executive Director, ADIC-India and S Jayaraj, State Coordinator, Tobacco Free Kerala also spoke.
A magic show by magician Harris Thaha highlighting the harms of tobacco use concluded the event.
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