THE virtual National Conference on Tobacco or Health which was held earlier in the week, began with a session on the Multilevel Longitudinal Study of adolescent tobacco use initiation in Mumbai and Kolkata, India by Healis Sekhsaria Institute for Public Health, Mumbai.
The conference was organised by Department of Community Medicine & School, PGIMER in collaboration with the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, the Union against Tuberculosis and lung diseases and Strategic Institute for Public Health and Research (SIPHER).
The session was chaired by Dr Prakash C Gupta, Director of the Healis-Sekhsaria Institute for Public Health (Healis), Navi Mumbai and Dr Sonu Goel, Professor, Department of Community Medicine & School of Public Health, PGIMER, Chandigarh.
Expressing his concern over the rapid spread of coronavirus, Dr PC Gupta said, “Attribute that tobacco use contributes to the rapid spread and severity of new infectious like Covid-19 and new forms of influenza, and ensure persistence of chronic infectious diseases like tuberculosis, call for hastening tobacco control efforts and ending tobacco trade across the country by 2030.”
He further emphasised that multi-sectoral integration, inter-agency coordination and wide-ranging partnerships remain central to phase out tobacco manufacturing and eventually its use by reforming and repurposing the tobacco sector, while actively countering the tobacco industry interference.
“As the world reels under the devastating effect of the Covid-19 pandemic, several underlying causes have led to its spread and persistence and this pandemic is teaching us several lessons for the future. The pandemic has demonstrated that there is greater suffering, higher hospitalisation costs, widespread transmission and more deaths among those predisposed to certain Non-Communicable diseases (NCDs). Tobacco use remains a significant driver of NCDs, and affects every organ and system of the body,” said Dr Sonu Goel.
Despite strong attempts by the Government of India and resolve of academicians, civil society organisations and media partners, the tobacco industry has not relented on making a product that enslaves youth to its addiction and kills 1.3 million adults every year in India.
The prospering trade of tobacco and its products need to end.
“The pandemic is also teaching us to be better prepared for serious health problems by substantially increasing the investment and resources in public health and the return on such investments will be several times over,” he added.
Dr Rana J Singh, Deputy Regional Director (Tobacco & NCD Control), The Union (South East Asia), New Delhi said that in current times, it becomes all more important to address tobacco use which is considered a risk factor for spread and progression of not only COVID infection but other diseases like TB also.
Prof Amarjeet Singh, Head, Department of Community Medicine & School of Public Health, PGIMER Chandigarh congratulated the team and said the department has been working with various states of India in advancing tobacco control at the national level.
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