The Secretary (Health and Family Welfare), B P Sharma launched Public Service Advertisements and poster on tobacco control featuring India’s ambassador for tobacco control, Rahul Dravid. The advertisements and posters have been prepared by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, and the World Health Organization Country Office for India (WHO), in collaboration with the Public Health Foundation of India (PHFI) and HRIDAY.
Speaking on the occasion the Secretary thanked Rahul Dravid for his endorsement to the cause. He said that the association of Dravid with this cause will inspire the youth of the country to stay away from tobacco products. He said that the growing number of youth and women consuming tobacco in some form is a cause of grave concern, and the anti-tobacco campaigns need to target them.
The anti-tobacco campaign featuring Dravid is an effort by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare to reach out to millions of young and potential tobacco users to encourage them to refrain from the deadly habit of tobacco use. According to the Report of Tobacco Control in India (2004), nearly 8-9 lakh people die every year due to diseases related to tobacco use in India. About 50% of all cancers in men and 25% of all cancers in women can be attributed to tobacco use. It is estimated that about 90% of all the oral cancers are caused due to smokeless tobacco use.
The Global Adult Tobacco Survey – India (GATS) conducted by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare shows that 35% of the adults in the age group of 15 years and above consume tobacco in some form or the other, with 48% men and 20% women consume tobacco in some form. Smokeless tobacco is the most-prevalent form of tobacco use in India within the lower socioeconomic groups and women. GATS found that more than 20 crore Indians use smokeless tobacco.
The audio and visual advertisements, in Hindi and English, along with the posters will be used to create awareness regarding the harmful effects of tobacco use through TV, radio, at schools, community spaces, railway compartments, and social media. Also present at the launch function were the DGHS, Dr. Jagdish Prasad, Additional Secretary and Mission Director (NHM), C K Mishra, representatives from WHO and senior officials of the Ministry.