Health Secretary B P Sharma launched Public Service Advertisements and poster on tobacco control featuring India’s ambassador for tobacco control Rahul Dravid on Thursday. The former Indian cricket captain has endorsed several public awareness campaigns including the Bangalore Traffic Police posters to begin with.
The advertisements and posters of the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, and the World Health Organization Country Office for India (WHO), in collaboration with the Public Health Foundation of India (PHFI) and HRIDAY feature Dravid endorsing the cause against tobacco.
Sharma thanked Rahul Dravid for his endorsement saying the poster will inspire the youth of the country to stay away from tobacco products. He said that the growing number of youth and women consuming tobacco in some form is a cause of grave concern, and the anti-tobacco campaigns need to target them.
According to the Report of Tobacco Control in India (2004), nearly 8-9 lakh people die every year due to diseases related to tobacco use in India. About 50% of all cancers in men and 25% of all cancers in women can be attributed to tobacco use. It is estimated that about 90% of all the oral cancers are caused due to smokeless tobacco use.
The Global Adult Tobacco Survey – India (GATS) conducted by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare shows that 35% of the adults in the age group of 15 years and above consume tobacco in some form or the other, with 48% men and 20% women consume tobacco in some form.
Smokeless tobacco is the most-prevalent form of tobacco use in India within the lower socioeconomic groups and women. GATS found that more than 20 crore Indians use smokeless tobacco.
The audio and visual advertisements, in Hindi and English, along with the posters will be used to create awareness regarding the harmful effects of tobacco use through TV, radio, at schools, community spaces, railway compartments, and social media, said the ministry.