Guwahati: Cancer in Assam is taking a very dangerous turn day by day, the most prominent cause of which is tobacco. Children get addicted to tobacco during school days itself. By ensuring tobacco-free educational institutes, number of lives can be saved. This great initiative has been taken up jointly by Tata Education Trust, Healis - Sekhsaria Institute for Public Health and Education Department of Assam. There has been a heavy burden in the middle and lower class people due to tobacco-induced diseases. According to a study in 2014, Rs. 541 crores were spent as healthcare costs for people of 35-69 age group because of tobacco-induced diseases.
To prevent the school children falling prey to the tobacco products, it is necessary that every educational institute’s campus be tobacco free – there must not be consumption or sale of tobacco on campus. Education Department has ordered the Heads of all educational institutes to make their campuses tobacco free. The Secretary Secondary Education, Shri R. C. Jain and Shri Preetom Saikia, Commissioner and Secondary for Elementary Education have issued the orders for their respective schools. There will be surveillance for this campaign. The Education Officers will investigate and report on the same. To expedite the implementation of the act, all principals are being informed by SMS.
Speaking on the launch, Director of Dr B. Barooah Cancer Institute and patron of VoTV (Voice of Tobacco Victims), Dr. Amal Kataki said that 90% of oral cancers are tobacco related. Indian Council of Medical Research’s report brought the fact into light that the cause of cancer in 50% of male and 25% of female is tobacco, 90% of which is oral cancer. Tobacco contains more than 3000 chemical compounds of which 29 chemicals can cause cancer. India is now known as the cancer capital of the world. This initiative will prevent children from falling prey to tobacco products.”
According to the latest data of cancer patient registry, among the total cancer patients in Kamrup Metro - 49.7% male and 24.1% female got cancer as a result of tobacco consumption. Of the cancer patients in Dibrugarh, 51.6% male and 22.8% female were result of tobacco consumption.
Sanjay Seth, Chief of Operations, Healis Sekhsaria Institute for Public Health said, “This initiative in addition to providing a safe campus for children will also provide a clean environment as tobacco products are largest cause of litter.
Tobacco is the single most preventable cause of death. In Assam more than 29,000 people die every year due to tobacco related diseases. As per the Global Adult Tobacco Survey (2010), 85 lac consume tobacco in some or the other form in Assam (52.6% males and 25.3% females consume tobacco).
Ashima Sarin, Project Director, Voice of Tobacco Victims (VoTV) said, “Tobacco not only impacts every part of the body but also every member of the family. In India, every day 2800 people are dying due to tobacco use. Sarin further added that there is one death in every 6 seconds in the world due to tobacco.”
Tobacco causes oral cancer, heart, lung and other non-communicable diseases. Global Youth Tobacco Survey indicates that more than 14.6% youths in India in the age group of 13 – 15 years start to consume tobacco. In India, 5500 children initiate the use of tobacco every day, some from age of 8 years become addicted. In Assam, 140 children initiate tobacco use everyday- it is an alarming fact. Tobacco industry targets children so that they become consumer forever.
Partho Patwari representing Tata Education Trust said, “We have deep interest in education and are happy to support this initiative to provide a safe and clean environment to children.”