Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Stop Puffing, 'No-Tobacco Day' is Coming

Earmaking a particular day, a year, or a decade for a particular cause is the best way to promote awareness. We obseve such marked events on calandar for different occasions necessary for our lives.

Observance of 'No-tobacco day' on 31st May is one such event. There is an annual spurt of activity raising concern about the continued sale of tobacco products and the ongoing damage to health of the people. It is not so much concern of those who are wealthy, who have means and can afford costly health care.

How about those manufacturing, promoting and selling tobacco products. The theme 'tobacco industry interference' for the 'World No Tobacco Day- 2012'  is an exercise realizing that unless it is faced head on nothing much will yield. The industry has been brazenly violating the FCTC, and it ought to be checked vigrously.

It is a concern of different magnitude when the user of tobacco product is poor, a victim of never ending nexus of poverty-bad health-economic burdeon-death of bread winner- misery and continued suffering. This person is more often illiterate, a neglected citizen, whom no one is interested in holding his hand and take him out from the nexus.

                                                                                               Photo: Zaka Imam

                                     Smoking bidi during a short spell of rest ( Grave health risk!)

Ramu (name changed) is one such person. He works as a labourer for rupees 220 a day (approximately US$ 5 for eight hour work), in between puffing bidis (an improvised cigarettee made of leaves with poor quality tobacco rolled inside). These are crude products, commonly sold in several parts of India. Those who run bidis making factories are  rich people, and this sector is known to even employ women and children for handmaking of bidis, who may often fall prey to the addiction of bidis.

                                                  A small shop selling tobacco products

Ramu's rugged face, skin tanned in scorching heat of sun, over three decades of his engagement as a labour, is shame to many of us who remain unconcerned of this neglection. In these days of fashion, trade, business, over-riding all other concerns for humanity, we are failing. The key word should be action and no rhetoric. Action must follow once we commit. A date on calandar must follow year round action: implementation of legislations, mass awareness, education.

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