From our Correspondent
KOHIMA, July 29: Nagaland State has earned the unenviable position of being ranked second among Indian states in terms of tobacco consumption, next to another small North-eastern State Mizoram.
According to latest survey conducted by Global Adult Tobacco, Ministry of Health & Family Welfare (MoHFW), every second man and every third women in Nagaland is addicted to tobacco.
57 per cent of people in Nagaland use tobacco products (69 per cent men and 43 per cent women) including cigarette and bidi and 45 per cent of people are using smokeless tobacco.
These figures were disclosed by a high power delegation of Ministry of Health &Family Welfare, New Delhi, during a meeting on effective implementation of National Tobacco Control Programme (NTCP) with police, various government departments and NGOs in the state capital, Kohima on Saturday.
According to MoHFW officials, it is estimated that lakhs of Nagaland people would die prematurely if tobacco control is not taken as a priority. The state has also been identified as a place which has one of the highest incidences of lung cancer in the entire world, especially among women.
Expressing concern over high usage of Gutka and Pan Masala in Nagaland, Director NTCP Amal Pusp admitted that despite the Supreme Court judgment and the FSSAI regulation, the ministry is unable to ban tobacco products such as Gutka because it is registered as a food product and there is no law to ban it so far.
Pusp however said that under the act, the State can act and that the central team have come to sensitize and create awareness to the State government.
Additional director and State nodal officer (NTCP) Dr N Savino in his presentation said that in Nagaland, the State Government had issued an order on ban of smoking in public places as per directive of Government of India.
It was also informed that the Phokhungri Area Public Organization under Meluri sub-division in Phek district during 90’s announced an award of Rs 10,000 to any village under its jurisdiction that declared 100 per cent no smoking village.
The purpose of the visit of the high power delegation of MoHFW is to sensitize the policy makers and various stake holders in the Northeast region. It desires to share some of the effective strategies that have emerged as game changers in tobacco control movement in India. One such move is to ban Guktka and tobacco containing pan masala under FSSAI 2006. While six large States have done it in India, none of the Northeast States have done it.
According to a handout, Nagaland State is losing thousands of young and middle aged people due to the use of tobacco products and that the State Government have to understand the epidemic.
“Billions of rupees are being wasted on the health care of these largely preventable illnesses and that the healthcare cost of tobacco is estimated to be 10 times the revenue due to tobacco. The GDP of the State will increase by 10 per cent if they were to control tobacco comprehensively. This has to be done on a war footing with contributions from every ministry and department such as the MHA” the handout stated .