Pictorial warnings on tobacco products: NGO takes lead over Govt.

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New Delhi, May 25 (UNI) Even though the health ministry has failed to keep its promise of introducing pictorial warnings on cigarette packets to warn people about the harmful effects of tobacco, an NGO is going to do it as part of a 'Tobacco Free Youth Campaign' .

The weeklong campaign is being launched from today to commemorate the World No Tobacco Day on May 31 under which fake cigarette packets with impactful pictorial images depicting ill effects of tobacco would be showcased.

Fake paan kiosks will be established at five locations in the NCR and street plays be held to create awareness about the harmful effects of tobacco on youths. Many participatory games giving message of quit smoking would be played and a public cigarette lighter has been designed as the "bell to hell" - every time you light a smoke press the bell to hell will also be displayed, said Mr Naveen Kumar, psychologist and trustee of the NGO 'Manas'.

Exposure to tobacco in any form causes diseases like cancer, cataracts, bronchitis, stroke and cardiovascular problems. About 90 per cent of all cases of lung cancer are caused by smoking. In India, tobacco kills between 8 to 9 lakh people each year i.e. 2220 deaths a day and 1 death every 40 seconds, he pointed out.

Numerous studies in youths have shown that tobacco use is prevalent and increasing in them. Lifetime prevalence of cigarette smoking and use of other tobacco products among medical students was 28 per cent and 22 per cent respectively. Among the male students of Delhi University, 28 per cent of the surveyed samples were found to be smokers. Stress scores were significantly higher among smokers than non-smokers.

Manas would launch such a campaign in association withthe Health Ministry and World Health Organisation to create awareness among youth against tobacco. The campaign focuses on reducing experimentation and initiation of tobacco use in youths. The campaign this year will use the principle of creating cognitive dissonance, which is the emotional distress that is experienced when a person does an act opposite to his strongly held values.

Thus, when a smoker will take this pack from the kiosk, it will be hard for him to deny the harmful effects of tobacco. He will then have to change his positive views about smoking or quit smoking. It will bring about an attitudinal change to think proactively about his health and well-being.


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