Kolkata, As per GATS (Global Adult Tobacco Survey) 2010, a household survey of persons 15 years or older conducted by the International Institute for Population Sciences (IIPS), under the coordination of the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW), nearly 2.4 crore people of West Bengal (36.3% of adult population) consume tobacco in some form. This alarming figure needs urgent action as it is leading to an enormous healthcare burden. It is estimated that 1.4 crore people in West Bengal may die an untimely death due to serious illnesses such as cancers, heart diseases, respiratory diseases, tuberculosis etc.
Narayana Superspeciality Hospital, Howrah and Sambandh Health Foundation have stepped forward to support the ‘Voice of Tobacco Victims’ campaign and have taken the pledge to save children of West Bengal from becoming tobacco consumers. As part of the awareness campaign, doctors from Narayana Superspeciality Hospital will be meeting politicians, bureaucrats, social and religious leaders to convey the plight of tobacco victims and their families and obtain the leaders support for tobacco control measures.
Dr Rakesh Verma, Facility Director, Narayana Superspeciality Hospital, Howrah said, “The economic costs attributable to diseases caused by tobacco use in West Bengal amounted to Rs. 3440 crores in the year 2011 as per GATS. Of this amount 56% was direct medical costs and 44% was indirect morbidity costs. The economic cost for four specific diseases (cardiovascular disease, cancer, tuberculosis and respiratory disease) amounted to Rs. 1332 crores. This data calls for prioritization of tobacco control for larger population level benefits in West Bengal. We strongly urge all the political parties to include tobacco control in their election manifesto and save lives of people of West Bengal. We need to act now to save lives”
Dr Pankaj Chaturvedi, VoTV patron & Head & Neck Surgeon, TMH (Mumbai) said, “We see huge number of cancer patients from Kolkata and majority of them are tobacco users. Most of these patients come in advanced stages and they die within one year. It is sad that the tobacco use still remains unabated.”
Sanjay Seth, Chief of Operations, Sambandh Health Foundation said, “Tobacco is a health issue but the basic ingredient to overcome the tobacco epidemic is political will. We urge all political parties to commit their support for tobacco control. We have initiated this campaign in other states like Delhi, Rajasthan, Harayana, Madhya Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Assam and Maharashtra and have been successful with our mission. We hope we will be able to create awareness and implement the laws in Bengal as well.”
India has a tobacco control law – COTPA (The Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products Act), which has provisions to ensure tobacco free Education Institutions. Section 4 of COTPA bans smoking in public places, including Educational Institutions while section 6 prohibits the sale of tobacco to/by minors and also prohibits the sale of tobacco within 100 yards of educational institutions. The campaign will attempt to get tobacco control laws implemented and get all educational institutions tobacco free in West Bengal.