Health organisations in Kerala have called for 100 per cent tobacco smoke-free public places as the world “unites to end Tuberculosis (TB)” on World Tuberculosis Day, on Friday. The Indian Chest Society, South Zone, TB Association of Kerala and Tobacco Free Kerala have come together to campaign for both individual and collective tobacco control measures to wipe out drug-resistant tuberculosis.
According to latest figures of the Government of India’s Revised National Tuberculosis Control Programme, as many as 14,147 persons in Kerala were diagnosed with TB, and 22,785 patients registered for treatment in 2015, a release said on Friday.
Studies have also shown that people who smoke have approximately twice the risk of tuberculosis and thrice the risk of tuberculosis infection, it said. Chairperson of Southern Region, Indian Chest Society, D J Christopher is vocal in calling for coordinated efforts to achieve 100 per cent tobacco smoke-free public places to protect lung health.
“Over the years, Kerala has made great strides in curtailing smoking in public places. The next step forward is to work towards public places that are 100 per cent smoke-free as mandated by the WHO,” he said.
“Such a measure would greatly contribute to overcoming the scourge of TB in Kerala. Kerala with its high literacy rate is in the best position to show the way for the rest of the country,” he added.
Highlighting the ill-effects of smoking, Professor and Head of Pulmonary Medicine, Christian Medical College, Vellore, Christopher said, “It is not very widely known that tobacco smoking increases risk of developing TB disease and smokers have worse disease and lung damage and respond to treatment poorly when compared to non-smokers.”
Even after successfully being cured from TB, the risk of the disease recurring in twice as high. Hence, it is important to understand and propagate the message about this lethal effect of tobacco as we observe the world TB day, he said.
Elaborating on the concept of 100 per cent tobacco smoke-free places, Advisor of Tobacco Free Kerala, AS Pradeep Kumar said, “It involves creating an environment where tobacco smoke cannot be seen, smelt, sensed, or measured. Presence of cigarette and bidi butts or ash would also not make an area 100 per cent smoke-free.”