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Ban Tobacco, Promote Sports

Sentinel Digital DeskBy : Sentinel Digital Desk

  |  11 March 2018 12:00 AM GMT

Siddhartha Upadhyay

Let me start by saying that I don’t want to sound a fatic, for I don’t suggest anything that I can’t do myself. I quit smoking recently. And that’s no small feat. Tobacco is the most common form of addiction and one of the most harmful as well, much more than the dreaded canbis or for that matter Ecstasy, let alone alcohol.

If, and I know it’s a big if, alcohol is consumed in moderation at a decent pace, half an hour for a peg, it’s actually medicil. But there’s no safe amount of consumption of tobacco products. And for a young country like India, where half of the population is below 25 years of age, tobacco is doom. The greatest challenge before India as a tion is to exploit the incredible demographic potential, and inculcating a sports culture is the most effective way of doing it. Tobacco is the surest and easiest way of squandering it.

Simply, tobacco is a significant public health hazard, and something urgently needs to be done to discourage people from tobacco consumption. Just to give an idea of the enormity of the problem, globally, tobacco kills more people than tuberculosis, HIV/AIDS and malaria combined.

Remember, smoking a cigarette is just one of many ways of consuming tobacco. The consumption of smokeless tobacco in the form of snuff, chewing tobacco, tobacco leaf and gutkha is widespread amongst all age groups in India. There’s no escape, every second Indian is hooked on to one or the other form of tobacco consumption, and more often than not, it contributes to oral submucosal fibrosis, or OSF, is an established fact.

More Indians chew tobacco than smoke cigarettes or beedis, the figures are 26 per cent and 14 per cent, respectively, according to the Indian government and the World Health Organisation’s Global Adult Tobacco Survey of 2009-2010. Not surprisingly, nearly 80 per cent of oral cancer patients are tobacco users.

Recently the Indian Jourl of Medical of Pediatrics published a study by Gauravi Mishra, Sharmila A. Pimple and Surendra S. Shastri that pointed to the fact that India is the second-largest consumer of tobacco globally, and accounts for approximately one-sixth of the world’s tobacco-related deaths. The Global Youth Tobacco Survey paints a grim picture of India. It was carried out amongst students of classes 8, 9 and 10, or roughly of the 13-16 age group. It was found that 15 per cent of students used tobacco products, mostly chewing tobacco (nearly 80 percent).

I specialise in youth outreach programmes by way of sports. And tobacco consumption is a great impediment in the objective of creating a healthy society committed to playing sports. Children and the unemployed youth are hard-pressed for money, and their consumption of tobacco products is highly susceptible to strong fiscal measures.

No half measures will suffice in the fight against tobacco. Ban tobacco. (IANS)

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