The leading cause of preventable death in India is Tobacco, causing about 1.35 million deaths yearly. According to Global Youth Tobacco Survey, 2019, more than 54 per cent of the youth population initiate tobacco consumption under ten years of age, leading to addiction to nicotine and a range of chronic illnesses such as lung disease, cancer, heart disease, stroke and others.
To understand tobacco's effect on youth health and well-being, the Mash foundation with Vital Strategies organised a virtual roundtable, "Youth Health and Well-Being: Doctors' Dialogue on Reducing Tobacco Consumption in India." The conference brought eight medical practitioners and experts from eight health specialisations and had over 80 participants from more than six youth networks.
The conference was conducted on July 28, 2022, with doctors across several specialisations- oncologists, pulmonologists, cardiologists, psychologists, gynaecologists, and nutritionists, coming together to share their valuable and multifaceted insights on how tobacco affects the vital organs in the human body.
The roundtable conference was moderated by Dr Vikrant Mohanty from the Department of Public Health Dentistry, Maulana Azad Institute of Dental Sciences, accompanied by co-moderator Priyaswara Bharti Ashoka Young Changemaker & Founder of Bihar Youth For Child Rights and other panellists were also present to make the session insightful.
A keynote speaker and Deputy Director at the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Dr L Swasticharan, said, "India as a country is severely struggling with preventable deaths and illnesses due to tobacco consumption in different forms, a usual sight in cancer hospitals. An average of 8.5 per cent of youth aged 13 to 15 use tobacco in one or more forms. I genuinely wish to see a tobacco-free India in my lifetime."
'India Vs Tobacco'
The discussion, part of the ongoing 'India Vs Tobacco' campaign, was followed by the launch of interactive billboards, 'Scan for a Healthier Future,' which highlight the health risks of secondhand smokeless tobacco and smoke exposure, and a microsite, Breakup Now, that encourages a better understanding of health and wellness among youth.
The #IndiaVsTobacco billboard campaign led by the Tata Memorial Centre and Vital Strategies engages and empowers young people, parents, and institutions to work toward a tobacco-free future in India. The interactive billboards aim to generate conversations about the health risks tobacco inflicts on society and highlight the harms of secondhand smoke and smokeless tobacco.
Each billboard is covered with either smoke or gutka stains, which hides a fundamental fact about secondhand smoke and smokeless tobacco use. People can view these hidden messages only by scanning the QR code through their mobile phones.
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