Friday, 19 September 2014

TFK salutes Union Health Minister Dr Harsh Vardhan

Tobacco Free Kerala salutes Hon'ble Union Minister Dr Harsh Vardhan for championing the cause of tobacco control


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Monday, 15 September 2014

Expert Committee recommends sterner tobacco control measures

An expert committee set up by the Health Ministry for recommending amendments to the Tobacco Regulation Act is likely to recommend that the minimum age for smoking be increased to 25 years from the current 18 years.

The committee is also in favour of raising fines for tobacco related offences, including smoking in public, but has decided that the increase should be at a reasonable level. However, the final report on amendments to the Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products (Prohibition of Advertisement and Regulation of Trade and Commerce, Production, Supply and Distribution) Act (COTPA), 2003, is yet to be prepared.

Former Delhi Health Secretary Ramesh Chandra, who heads the committee, said the report will be ready early next week.

“We are in favour of raising the minimum age for smoking to 25 years. We also want fines for tobacco-related offences to be raised and among the suggestions that we have received is one that says that the fine for smoking in public should be Rs 20,000. We have not taken a call on what that amount should be but we understand that proposing an amount that is not practical will only cause the government to reject that recommendation. We do not want that. We also want the sale of loose cigarettes to be stopped and the size of the pictorial warning to be raised,” said one of the members of the committee.

Members explained that the inputs of the committee are more of a technical nature, delineating international best practices and the health effects of tobacco. “The final shape of the report is being decided in consultation with the ministry representative,” explained a member. 

Among the other offences for which the committee wants fines to be raised are for sale of tobacco products to underage people, advertisements at the point of sale and repeat offenders especially when they are traders or companies violating COTPA regulations.

Source: Indian Express

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Friday, 5 September 2014

Radio Benziger takes up the cause of tobacco control

In the interest of public health, Radio Benziger – India’s first hospital based radio has begun dedicated transmission of tobacco control messages in association with Tobacco Free Kerala – a coalition working for tobacco control in Kerala. 

The transmission, which began on August 30, involves multiple repeats of spots on the harms of tobacco, made available by Tobacco Free Kerala in liaison with World Lung Foundation, the technical partner to the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare in tobacco control communications.

Currently, 30-second Malayalam spots titled ‘Artery’ and ‘Dhuan’ are alternately repeated eight times over the radio’s 15-hour daily broadcast period. ‘Artery’ describes how cigarette/bidi smoking clogs up the main artery leading to the heart and ‘Dhuan’ is about the dangers of second hand smoke as a result of smoking which is banned in public places. 

Under the Indian tobacco control law, COTPA 2003, smoking is prohibited in all places where public has access as of right or not; violations can invite a spot fine of up to Rs 200. The law empowers 21 categories of officials including Police, Health and Education to act against violators.

Fr. Ferdinand Peter, Director, Radio Benziger said, “Tobacco is a leading preventable cause of many fatal illnesses, and this current project is part of our efforts to forewarn and save the lives of as many people as possible, especially children, from the maladies of this sinful substance. Though we have tackled tobacco control earlier as well, this is first time we have dedicated specific time slots for this purpose in our community radio.”

Radio Benziger, which began operations in 2010, now reaches over 4 lakh people around a 20 km radius in and around Kollam district.  The major target group of the radio is the coastal population.

A study conducted by Regional Cancer Centre (RCC) and Bhabha Atomic Research Centre in coastal wards of Kollam Corporation last year had brought out that nearly 37% males smoke tobacco – much higher than the Kerala average of 27.9% and national average of 24.3% for males, as per the Global Adult Tobacco Survey (2009-10).

Shri S Jayaraj, State Coordinator, Tobacco Free Kerala said, “We are happy that Radio Benziger readily accepted our proposal for transmitting tobacco control messages through their network. We are looking forward to a strong partnership with this popular community Radio in the fight to save our people, mainly the younger generation from tobacco harms.”

Radio Benziger can be heard by tuning in to FM 107.8 MHz. Programme sharing is possible through ‘Ek Duniya Anek Awaaz’ - a web based free and open audio content and resource exchange platform for community radio broadcasters.
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Wednesday, 27 August 2014

Economic costs of tobacco use: Kerala surpasses neighbours

Kerala has emerged as a leader of sorts in South India with the huge economic burden it shoulders on account of tobacco use. God’s Own Country has left behind its tobacco cultivating neighbours Karnataka and Tamil Nadu, reveals the findings of a major recent national study conducted to estimate the economic dimensions of tobacco use.

The study supported by the Union Ministry of Health & Family Welfare and the World Health Organisation brings out that the economic resources lost in treating and managing four major tobacco-induced diseases is nearly 75 per cent more than Karnataka. While Kerala burns out Rs 545.4 crores, it is Rs 314.7 crores in Karnataka.

Monetary resources lost due to tobacco use in Tamil Nadu is nearly 17 per cent lesser than Kerala, at Rs 467 crores.

The report following the study called ‘Economic Burden of Tobacco Related Diseases in India’ developed by the Public Health Foundation of India has estimated the economic costs on persons aged 35 – 69 in the year 2011. It has estimated both direct medical costs and indirect morbidity costs in two categories – all tobacco-induced diseases, and four specific diseases – cardiovascular diseases (CVDs); cancer, tuberculosis and respiratory disease.

Direct medical costs include direct healthcare expenditure for inpatient hospitalisation or outpatient visits such as medicines, diagnostic tests, bed charges and surgeon’s fees. Indirect costs accrue from expenses incurred on transportation and lodging charges for caregivers, loss of household income due to inpatient hospitalisation, besides costs from premature death. 

A similar pattern prevails with regard to economic burden of tobacco use from all diseases, with Kerala facing a greater pinch than Karnataka and Tamil Nadu. The economic cost in Kerala on all diseases is Rs 1513.7 crores, as against Rs 983.1 crores in Karnataka and Rs 1171.3 crores in Tamil Nadu.

In line with consumption patterns, tobacco-induced costs are higher among Kerala males as compared to females. Among males, higher costs – both direct and indirect – accrue from smoking tobacco products as against smokeless tobacco products.

On four diseases specifically, tobacco use among Kerala males causes a loss of Rs 518.9 crores, which is nearly 90 per cent more than in Karnataka and 40 per cent more than in Tamil Nadu. Tobacco induced economic costs among Kerala females is Rs 26.4 crores.

Kerala’s saving grace is Andhra Pradesh, a major tobacco producing state in India, which leads with the highest economic burden due to tobacco use among southern states.

The study, among others, recommends prioritisation of tobacco control measures such as strengthening implementation of Indian tobacco control law, COTPA, 2003; uniform taxes on all tobacco products such as cigarettes and bidis; prohibition on sale and manufacture of all forms of smokeless tobacco products/chewing tobacco and high visibility public awareness campaigns to consistently reach different target audiences.

The Value Added Tax on cigarettes in Kerala is 22 per cent and bidis are not taxed at all.
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Wednesday, 20 August 2014

Thiruvananthapuram set to become first smoke-free district

By August 31, all government, public sector and private offices in the district are would become 'Smoke-free' as the district collector has issued directives as part of the drive to make the district the first district in the state to comply with the Indian Tobacco Control law - Cotpa. 

"Initially, directions were issued to ensure a smoke-free environment in all public places, government, public and private offices and establishments in the district by August 15. As some had sought more time to implement it, the deadline to ensure a smoke-free district was extended till 31st," district collector Biju Prabhakar told TOI. 

A decision in this regard was taken at a meeting convened by the district collector with representatives of all major departments such as city and rural police, education, excise, local self government, corporation, food Safety, health, RCC, transport and railways on Tuesday. 

The directive states that all workplaces, government, public offices and private establishments in the district should ensure a smoke-free environment according to Section 4 of Smoking in Public Places Rules 2008 of Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products (Prohibition of Advertisement and Regulation of Trade and Commerce, Production, Supply and Distribution) Act (Cotpa). It has outlined the need to set up warning boards in bilingual template of no less than 60cmx30cm on display at workplaces and public places. 

"Enforcement of the drive to ensure a smoke-free public space in any government, public and private office or establishment will help reduce the menace, even if not 100% eradication. In a workplace or a hotel, smoking should not be permitted in a public space as it will affect others's health. A separate smoker's chamber or room should be there," Biju Prabhakar said. 

With Tobacco-free Kerala, making all workplaces smoke-free is critical to achieving the target of Kerala's first Cotpa compliant district and it will make the state capital a model in the public health arena, he added. 

After the enforcement drive against tobacco products and pan masala, it is almost banned in Kerala with the convergence of various departments including, excise and food safety, he said. 

Courtesy: Times of India
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Thursday, 14 August 2014

Kozhikode district to say no to tobacco

The district administration, with the help of the Police Department and various voluntary organisations, is trying to make Kozhikode a tobacco-free district as per the Cigarettes and Other tobacco products (Prohibition of Advertisement and Regulation of Trade and Commerce, Production, Supply and Distribution) Act (COTPA), 2003.

District Collector C.A. Latha said in a press release that the district administration aimed at coordinating various departments and agencies for the purpose. The district would get a ‘public health friendly’ status in three months, she said.

The project was part of the government’s policy to protect the public, especially children, from tobacco and drugs. The Collector had convened a meeting of various departments and agencies on August 7 to discuss the project. The response was favourable, the release said.

The target would be achieved through awareness programmes and strict enforcement of the laws by the police and other agencies, with the help of various institutions and the media, the release said.

The district administration would monitor and evaluate the implementation of the project. The details would be made available on the official website,
Ms. Latha said.

Campaigns would be taken up to make people aware of the harm that tobacco could do. People’s representatives would take part in the project. The plan was to make it a model project for other districts and States to emulate, she said.

As per Section 4 of COTPA, smoking had been banned in public places. Advertising tobacco products in any manner was banned under Section 5. Section 6(a) banned the sale of tobacco products to anyone below 18 years of age.

The section also banned the sale of tobacco products within 100 metres of educational institutions. Section 7 spoke of mandatory health warnings on packets. All these would be enforced strictly, she said.

City Police Commissioner A.V. George and District Police Chief, Kozhikode rural, P.H. Ashraf said the police would cooperate wholeheartedly with the programme.

Police officers in the district had been trained and instructed in this regard. The programme was co-organised by ‘Tobacco Free Kerala.’

Source: The Hindu
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Wednesday, 16 July 2014

Kerala capital to become model COTPA compliant: City police gears up

The Thiruvananthapuram City Police  are fully geared up for time-bound action to make the capital a tobacco free district that fulfils the provisions of the Indian tobacco control law COTPA, 2003. This follows a multi-stakeholder meeting chaired by the District Collector that decided to make Thiruvananthapuram a model COTPA compliant district.

As part of this, Circle Inspectors and Sub Inspectors attended a half-day workshop in which they were explained the various sections of COTPA and the steps for achieving model compliance status.

Deputy Commissioner Smt S Ajeetha Begum talked about the purpose of the training programme and asked all officers to take strict action against COTPA violations. “We are embarking on a prestigious project that will have positive implications on the health and well-being of our people,” she said, even while calling for strengthening reporting of COTPA violations.

Faculty member Retd.DySP Adv K Mohana Kumar made an audio-visual presentation and explained the various sections of COTPA and the punitive measures prescribed for violation of each. Section 4 of COTPA prohibits smoking in all public places; acts of violation will invite a fine up to Rs 200. Public places have also to put up mandatory no smoking signages in the prescribed size and format at the entrance and conspicuous places inside. Educational institutions, hospitals, restaurants, cinema halls and the like are included in the list of public places, he told.

Section 5 prohibits all forms of tobacco advertisements; Section 6 prohibits sale of tobacco products to and by minors – sale of tobacco products around 100 yards (91.4 metres) radially of an educational institution is banned. Section 7 requires statutory health warnings in all tobacco products’ packages.

Joint Commissioner, Food Safety Shri K Anil Kumar explained that products such as gutkha and pan masala containing tobacco or nicotine have been banned in Kerala as per the 2011 regulation of the Food Safety and Standards Act of India, 2006. As per this, tobacco and nicotine shall not be used as an ingredient in any food product and that the product should not contain any substance that is injurious health.  He also sought stronger coordination between Food Safety and other implementing departments such as Police and Health for effective enforcement of the ban in Kerala.

District Health Officer (Rural) Shri PK Raju presented field-level experiences on implementing COTPA. Highlighting a circular issued by the local self government department in 2011, he pointed out that setting up of ‘no smoking’ boards are a precondition for issue of Factory Licences and Dangerous & Offensive Trade Licences under the Kerala Panchayat/Municipality Acts. Secretaries of Local Government Institutions have been directed to display boards prohibiting smoking at public places and premises of offices under their control, Shri Raju added.

In his opening remarks, Shri S Jayaraj, State Coordinator, Tobacco Free Kerala spoke about smoking in public places which violates Articles 21 and 47 of the Indian Constitution. Article 21 is about protection of life and personal liberty and Article 47 calls upon the State to improve public health.

Tobacco use victim Shri Sukumaran narrated the physical and financial hardships he had to face following tobacco induced oral cancer. The workshop was organised by Trivandrum City Police together with Tobacco Free Kerala – a coalition of like-minded organisations formed for tobacco control in Kerala. More than 30 officers participated in the programme. 
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Wednesday, 7 May 2014

National Short Film Contest on Tobacco Control: Entries invited

To heighten awareness about the potent dangers of tobacco among the youth and to enhance their involvement in control efforts, a national short film contest is being organised ahead of World No Tobacco Day (WNTD) that falls on May 31.
Entries are invited from youth between the ages of 18 and 25 for this contest being conducted by WNTD Kerala State Organising Committee formed under the leadership of the Department of Health, GoK, Achutha Menon Centre for Health Science Studies of Sree Chitra Tirunal Institute for Medical Sciences & Technology and Regional Cancer Centre.
The entered short films should be in English or Malayalam and may be made in digital camera, camcorder, handycam or mobile camera. The films should have a minimum duration of 30 seconds and should not exceed one minute. Both individuals and groups can participate.
The short films may be made in one of the themes including ‘raise tobacco taxes’; ‘enforce tobacco control laws’; ‘tobacco and health’ and ‘tobacco and youth’.
The last date for submitting entries is May 19; only the first 100 entries received before the deadline will be considered for evaluation. A jury panel of noted filmmakers and medical experts of repute will evaluate the films. The first three winning entries will get a cash prize of Rs. 10,000, Rs. 5,000 and Rs. 3,000 respectively; there are also two consolation prizes of Rs 1,000 each. All winners will get a certificate and memento.
Submissions of not more than 25 MB in ‘.mov’ or ‘mpeg’ formats are to be sent via email to More details about the contest, its rules and regulations are available here. For further details, contact 0471 – 2524247.
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Wednesday, 16 April 2014

Tobacco causes 40 per cent of cancers in India

Around two fifths (40 per cent) of all cancers in India are attributable to tobacco use, and the economic costs of illness and premature death due to tobacco consumption exceed combined government and state expenditure on medical and public health, water supply, and sanitation, a new report on cancer care in India published in The Lancet Oncology revealed.

The report points out that India is facing a cancer crisis, with smoking, belated diagnosis and unequal access to treatment causing large-scale problems. Every year in India,around one million new cancer cases are diagnosed and around 600,000 to 700,000 people die from cancer in India, with this death toll projected to rise to around 1.2 million deaths per year by 2035.

The report compiled by Professor Richard Sullivan and Professor Arnie Purushotham from King's Health Partners Cancer Centre at King's College London with the help of senior Indian colleagues including Professor CS Pramesh and Professor Rajan Badwe at the Tata Memorial Cancer Centre, Mumbai.

Although India has a relatively lower incidence of cancer (around a quarter of that in the USA or Western Europe), the rate of deaths from cancer, adjusted for age, is similar to that seen in high-income countries, the report said.
Less than a third of patients with cancer in India currently survive for more than five years after diagnosis.
Around 95 per cent of the medical colleges in India do not have comprehensive cancer care services, comprising Surgical, Medical and Radiation Oncology departments, in the same campus.
Currently there are around 2,000 medical and radiation oncologists in India one per 5000 newly diagnosed cancer patients and in almost all remote or rural areas even the most basic cancer treatment facilities are non-existent, it said.
As a result, urban cancer centres are overcrowded and under-resourced, leading to long waiting times, delayed diagnoses, and treatment that comes too late for many patients.

"Cancer research needs to be central to plans for national cancer control, and cancer needs to be one of the focuses of national research agendas and priorities," said Professor Richard Sullivan, King's College London, series coordinator and lead author of the series paper on cancer research in India.

Abstracted from Manoramaonline
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