In a joint effort, some doctors from USA and Doctors for You, India, a Mumbai-based NGO, will go on a month-long autorickshaw rally across six states to create awareness about the dangerous effects of tobacco. The participants will cover more than 100 towns and cities in these states.
India is ranked first in smokeless consumption of tobacco globally. Dr Ravikant Singh from Doctors for You said: “About 275 million Indians are in the habit of consuming tobacco in several forms. The rally for health intends to make people aware of the consequences of smoking and consuming tobacco. People are not unaware. They just ignore.”
Doctors for You, a recipient of the British Journal Award,along with the doctors from USA will go around the states
in the next 25 days. The doctors will talk about the harmful effects of tobacco, hold one-on-one discussions, group discussions, technical paper presentations, screening of specialised movies, enact plays and skits. “We will also have competitions like poster-making and distribute pamphlets and posters,” added Dr Ravikant.
According to recent the Global Adult Tobacco Survey, about 275 million people in India are addicted to tobacco, and one-third of them use it in smokeless form. India is the greatest producer of areca nut, producing about 3,30,000 million tons a year (nearly half of global areca nut production), and most of them are consumed within the country.
The gutka industry in India has grown from small beginnings forty years ago to a multi-billion rupee industry with nearly 375 brands, of which, nearly 100 are located in Mumbai. It is estimated that gutka and paan masala worth around Rs10,000 crore is sold in the country annually. Due to its low cost, easy availability, attractive packaging, aggressive marketing, innocent adolescents and youths are becoming addicted to them. In India, over 5 million children under 15 are addicted to gutka.
Dr Pankaj Chaturvedi, head and neck cancer surgeon from Tata hospital who has also been actively spearheading a campaign against tobacco products, said, “Unfortunately, most cancer patients in India come to us when they are in their last stages. Many of them are young. This happens because most of the people start chewing and consuming tobacco products while in school.” Dr Chaturvedi is also part of the rally.