Theme for 2020 World No Tobacco Day to focus on protecting youth: Lana Nongbri

Shillong, May 30: The State Nodal Officer, National Tobacco Control Programme (NTCP) of NHM Meghalaya, Dr Lana Nongbri announced that the theme for this year’s World No Tobacco Day is “Protecting Youth from Industry Manipulation and preventing them from Tobacco and Nicotine use.”

She made the announcement during a press briefing held on Friday at Shillong Civil Hospital in the presence of Joint Director of health service Dr. S.S. Nongbri, Dr Star Pala, Associate Professor Community Medicine NEIGRIHMS along with Staff of State Tobacco Control cell, NTCP, Meghalaya.

This year’s campaign is to fight against tobacco use and particularly of the manipulation strategies that tobacco industry adopts to attract and trap young people into the captivation of tobacco use, Dr Nongbri stated.

In her address she pointed out the importance of collective effort to be made by different local government bodies in the state in effective implementation of various tobacco control program by the tobacco control cell in combating the magnitude of tobacco use.

She informed that according to statistics of South East Asian Region, India is home to 1/5th of the World’s smokers (237 million) and home to 80% of World’s tobacco users (301 million) where nearly 1.6 million die each year in the region because of tobacco use. 

“In Meghalaya the prevalence of tobacco use is 47% of all forms of tobacco. Among the users, 59.8 % were male and 34.2 % were female. According to GATS 2 (2016 -2017), Meghalaya ranks 5th with 47% tobacco users, 2nd in the Country at 31.6% in Smoking next to Mizoram and 15th in the Country for Smokeless forms at 20.3%,” she added.

Sharing her key note address on the theme of World No Tobacco Day this year she described that for decades, tobacco industry has deliberately employed strategic, aggressive and well-resourced tactics to attract youth to tobacco and nicotine products.

“Their approach is a calculated one; they design things in such a way to attract a new generation of users to replace the millions who die each year, i.e., attracting the youth,” she said.

According to Dr. Lana, industries are manipulating youth through use of flavours and sleek design that are attractive to youth and the promotion of products as “reduced harm” or “cleaner” alternatives that contain nicotine in the form of Electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDs) such as e-cigarettes, e-pipes, e-hookahs and Electronic Non Nicotine Delivery System (ENNDS). However many have been found to contain nicotine after testing, she informed.

“Social media companies should ban advertising, promotion and sponsorship by tobacco industries. Films, television production companies should pledge not to depict tobacco or e-cigarette use. Parents & Relatives must educate children on harm of nicotine and tobacco product use. Nurses and Health practitioners ought to provide updated information about risks associated with use of these products and empower users to quit through the offer of brief cessation advice,” she stated.

She also added that schools and youth groups can raise awareness of the dangers of nicotine and tobacco use. “Local Governments are bound to Support the implementation of tobacco control policies as outlined in WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control. The true face of tobacco is disease, death and horror – not the glamour and sophistication the pushers in the tobacco industry try to portray,” Dr Nongbri stressed. 

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