Salem (Tamil Nadu)/ New Delhi, May 31 : Anti-tobacco campaigners in parts of the country hit streets shouting slogans to ban tobacco products on Saturday to mark 'World No Tobacco Day'.
Activists of Pusumai Thaayagam, a voluntary organization in Salem district of Tamil Nadu took out a mock funeral procession of huge cigarettes.
"Nearly about 30 crore people in the country uses tobacco product in which more than ten crore people die because of this. Smoking causes several health ailments like cancer, skin disorders, lung diseases. So, we are campaigning to caution the youth to stay away from the tobacco," said Sathiriya Sekar, organiser of Pusumai Thaayagam.
India is among the few countries to ban tobacco-related advertisements but apart from the ban in media, the ban on smoking in public places or sale to minors is blatantly flouted.
In metros, smokers and tobacco chewers openly flout the law, some even terming it as ridiculous.
Union Health Minister Anbumani Ramadoss has proposed to ban smoking at workplaces from October 2, 2008.
Meanwhile, anti-tobacco protagonists in New Delhi also took out a similar protest demanding immediate intervention of the government to bring strict laws to ban tobacco product in the country.
"We request the government not to adopt double standards as far as their policies on tobacco are concerned. Just to earn revenues, the government is undermining the health of thousand of youths. Be it any political party in power, if it is really concerned about the health of the young generation then it should bring in strictly ban tobacco products in the country," said Subhash, an activist.
Tobacco is a major cause for high rate of oral cancer in India. Every second person in the world suffering from oral cancer is an Indian.
Tobacco victims in India out-number the AIDS victims, as one million of the 250 million tobacco users in the country die every year.
India is the third largest tobacco producer and consumer in the world after China and United States of America (USA). India, exports one fourth of its total annual tobacco output, which is nearly 545 million kilograms.
According to the WHO, there will be more than ten million deaths a year due to oral cancer in the next thirty years with 70 per cent of those occurring in developing countries like India.