Monday, 24 November 2014

Tobacco control measures in Rajasthan: UN mission to visit state

Exemplary work done by the Rajasthan government in tobacco control has attracted the attention of a joint mission of the UN inter-agency task force on prevention and control of non-communicable diseases, which is visiting Rajasthan next month. 

In a letter to state's principal secretary, medical and health, WHO representative to India Dr Nata Menabde mentioned, "The main focus of the visit will be to create a forum for highlighting lessons learned in formulating multi-sectoral coordination for non-communicable diseases (NCDs) and tobacco control and identify challenges in the prevention and control of NCDs at state level." The team of officials will visit the state on December 11. 

The mission members will discuss with the state officials about the distinction of Rajasthan as the first state in India with a mandatory requirement for government job aspirants to file an undertaking for not using tobacco products in any form (smoking or chewing forms), declaration of all educational institutions in the state as tobacco-free institutions as per government of India guidelines and imposition of the highest rate of VAT on all tobacco products.

The team will comprise officials from WHO, UNDP, UNFPA, UNICEF and the World Bank with participants from their headquarters, regional and country office. 

The visit will be coordinated by the WHO country office for India in close collaboration with the ministry of health and family welfare and office of the UN resident coordinator in India. The efforts are being made to intensify fight against NCDs as it is currently leading cause of morbidity and mortality in India. 

Nata pointed out in the letter, "In September 2011, heads of state and government adopted the political declaration of the high-level meeting on prevention and control of NCDs during the general assembly of UN. The declarations called upon WHO, as the lead UN specialized agency for health, and all other UN system agencies and international financial institutions to work together in a coordinated manner to support national efforts to prevent and control NCDs and mitigate their impacts." 

Tobacco control and NCD nodal officer (state) Dr Sunil Singh said, "Rajasthan won two WHO's director general awards in two successive years for its efforts on tobacco control. We have banned gutkha and introduced Pehal, an online counseling for tobacco addict." 

The UN inter agency task force (UNIATF), which will visit the state was established to coordinate the activities of the relevant UN funds, programmes and specialized agencies and other intergovernmental organizations to support realization of the commitments made in the political declaration. In particular, through implementation of the WHO global action plan on NCDs 2013-2020. 

In this regard, a joint mission of the UNIATF is visiting India during December 8-12, 2014. The joint mission is intended to enhance the support of the UN agencies to the government of India to scale up the national multi-sectoral response to NCDs.

Courtesy: Times of India
Read more ...

Wednesday, 5 November 2014

Living with a smoker equals breathing the air in world's most polluted cities

Living with a smoker can be like breathing the air in the world’s most polluted cities, according to a new study from Scotland.

According to lead author Sene Semple of the of the Scottish Center for Indoor Air at the University of Aberdeen, smoking in  home leads to really poor air quality and results in concentrations of fine particles. 

Tiny particles 2.5 microns in diameter or smaller, known as PM2.5, can penetrate deep into the lungs and even enter the blood. They’ve been linked to heart disease, strokes and cancer.

“Making your home smoke-free is key to reducing your exposure to PM2.5; for non-smokers who live with a smoker the impact of implementing smoke-free house rules would reduce their daily intake of PM2.5 by 70 percent or more,” Semple said. 

Such tiny particles typically result from combustion. Outdoors, the primary sources are vehicle exhaust, power plants and wildfires. Indoors, wood-burning or coal-burning stoves, gas cooking and heating fires and tobacco smoke are the most common sources of PM2.5 in the air.

For outdoor air, the World Health Organization says the safe exposure limit for PM2.5 particles is an average of 25 micrograms, or 25 millionths of a gram, per cubic meter of air over a 24-hour period, or average annual levels of 10 micrograms per cubic meter.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency sets the 24-hour limit at an average of 12 micrograms.

Semple and his colleagues wanted to bring together two scientific communities: those involved in tobacco control work and those interested in outdoor air pollution and health. “We think there is a lot that each can learn from the other,” he said.

Many studies have examined outdoor air pollution or indoor air quality in workplaces. But home is where most people spend the majority of their time, particularly small children and homebound elderly people, the researchers write. By comparing indoor air pollution in the homes of smokers and non-smokers, then comparing that to the most polluted cities, they hoped to illustrate the perils of indoor tobacco smoke over a lifetime.

The study team looked at data from four separate studies that measured PM2.5 levels in 93 Scottish homes where people smoked and 17 homes that were smoke free.

On average, PM2.5 levels in smokers' homes were around 31 micrograms per cubic meter – 10 times greater than the average of 3 micrograms in non-smoking homes.

There was a wide range of smoke concentrations in the smokers’ homes, however, and in one quarter of them, the 24-hour averages were 111 micrograms.

Semple pointed out, “A considerable proportion of smokers’ homes had air pollution levels that were the same or higher than the annual average PM2.5 concentration measured in Beijing,” a heavily polluted city.

The study team estimates that over a lifetime, a non-smoker living with a smoker will inhale about 6 grams more particulate matter than a non-smoker living in a smoke-free home.

Semple said that isn’t much, but this amount is likely to "have a substantial effect on the risk of developing diseases of the cardiovascular and respiratory systems.”

Semple said smokers often express the view that outdoor traffic pollution is a bigger problem than second-hand smoke pollution in the home.

“What this work shows is that, for most people living outside of major heavily polluted mega-cities like Beijing or Delhi, outdoor air pollution is much, much lower than what is measured inside homes where someone smokes,” he said.

Source: Reuters

Read more ...

Wednesday, 15 October 2014

Tobacco packets to devote 85 per cent space to warnings

India has made it mandatory for tobacco companies to devote 85 per cent space on packets of cigarettes and other tobacco products to warnings against the ill effects of tobacco consumption.

"We have issued a notification to ensure that in the next few months cigarette manufacturers have 85 per cent space on packets covered with either pictorial warnings or messages warning against the perils of tobacco use," Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan announced in New Delhi at a function on the occasion of global hand washing day.

The guidelines would come into effect from April 1, 2015. 

As of now, tobacco companies are required to devote only 40 per cent of the space on packets to pictorial warnings against tobacco use.

Mr Harsh Vardhan said, "In my career as a doctor, I have seen smokers and tobacco users die in front of me. We should do whatever we can to make people aware."

With this, India will join Thailand where 85 percent of space on packs of cigarette and other tobacco products is covered with warnings. 

India will now rank first in the list of 198 countries that warn smokers about the hazards of smoking through graphic pictures on cigarette packets.

In Australia, it is 82.5 per cent and in Uruguay, it 80 per cent. 

India's ranking had dropped down to 136 out of 198 among countries, which include pictorial health warnings on cigarette packets.

According to the notification issued: "The specified health warning shall cover at least 85 per cent of the principal display area of the package, of which 60 percent shall cover pictorial health warning and 25 percent shall cover textual health warning and shall be positioned on the top edge of the package".

For packages containing smoking forms of tobacco, the pictorial warnings would be of throat cancer, and for chewable tobacco products, they would be of mouth cancer.

The notification said the health warnings shall be expressed in English or any Indian language. 

"The specified health warning on tobacco product packages shall be rotated every 24 months from the date of commencement of these rules or before the period of rotation as may be specified by the central government notification," it said.

"The size of all components of the specified health warning shall be increased proportionally according to increase in package size to ensure that the specified health warning covers 85 percent of the principal display area".

Source: NDTV
Read more ...

Tuesday, 14 October 2014

TFK stall at Clean Campus Trivandrum Regional Meet

TFK's stall set up at the venue of Trivandrum Regional Meet of Clean Campus, Safe Campus on 10 October 2014 evinced enthusiastic participation of students and bureaucrats alike.

Visitors thronged our stall and eagerly wrote their comments in the 'Have Your Say' wall. 

Posters were specially designed wherein key stakeholders could write their views on implementing the ban on sale of tobacco products around schools.

Under Section 6 (b) of Indian tobacco control law, COTPA, 2003, sale of tobacco products is prohibited in an area within a radius of 100 yards of an educational institution. 

Read more ...

Wednesday, 8 October 2014

Tobacco control: Health custodians congratulate Kerala Police

Senior custodians of health across the state have heaped praises on Kerala Police for their role in preventive health by tightening enforcement of the tobacco control law COTPA, 2003 that is aimed at protecting public from the many harms of tobacco use. COTPA violations check by Kerala Police for the May-July 2014 quarter has gone up by 64 per cent compared to the same period last year.

Dr. Ramdas Pisharody, Principal, Trivandrum Medical College, congratulating the Trivandrum City Police for making the college area smoke-free said,  “This concerted effort by the police force to safeguard the lives of thousands who visit the hospital every day by enforcing COTPA is very laudable. Owing to high literacy levels and penetration of mass media in Kerala, awareness that smoking and tobacco use is harmful to health is very high among our people. Yet, people continue to smoke away causing harm not only to their health but also of others. Tough enforcement of laws together with counselling by doctors is the need of the hour to arrest the preventable damage to public health from tobacco use.”

The Trivandrum City Police, as a part of the collective exercise led by the District Administration to make the district model COTPA compliant, recently declared the Medical College police circle smoke free.

Ernakulam and Kozhikode districts are also in the fray to become model COTPA compliant. Multi-stakeholder efforts in these two districts are led by the District Collectors with active support from the police and other enforcement agencies.  

According to Dr. VP Gangadharan, pioneer medical oncologist and HoD of Medical and Paediatric Oncology, Lakeshore Hospital, Kochi, tobacco induced oral cancers is on the rise in Kerala. “Youngsters are increasingly developing an affinity for tobacco products, which are a definitive causative factor for mouth and throat cancers.”

Complimenting the Kerala Police for their action to curb tobacco use through noble endeavours such as model COTPA compliant districts, he said, “All sections of the society should support the police and other enforcement officials to ensure that no sale of tobacco products happen around any educational institution in Kerala, from primary schools to institutions of higher education.”

Section 6 (b) of COTPA prohibits the sale of tobacco products around 100 yards (91.4 metres) of any educational institution.

Dr MN Krishnan, Prof and Head, Department of Cardiology, Government Medical College, Kozhikode feels that by working to control tobacco use through enforcing the law, police are not just helping to save lives but supporting the state’s economy as well.

“The economic burden to Kerala from tobacco use is very high; a study for the year 2011 found it is the highest for cardiovascular diseases at Rs 226 crores. This is precious resources going down the drain. Police, by acting against tobacco use, are doing a productive service not just to public health but also to our economy’s health.” 

He added that the fine amount collected by the police and other enforcement agencies should be pumped in for tobacco control measures.

From 16,363 challans for COTPA violations during May-July 2013, police have strengthened efforts and have fined/challaned 26,797 persons during May-July 2014, as per Kerala Police website. Fine amount collected from COTPA violators have also increased by 115 per cent in the same period. From Rs 2,270,950 in 2013, it rose to Rs 4,877,550 in 2014. 
Read more ...

Thursday, 25 September 2014

COTPA implementation: Kerala Government authorises Excise Inspectors

The Kerala Government vide GO(P) No. 155-2014/TD dated 20 September 2014 has authorised Excise Department for implementing COTPA, 2003. Officers of the rank of the Excise Inspectors and above can now take action under Sections 12 and 13 of COTPA.

Section 12 of COTPA 2003 states: (1) Any police officer, not below the rank of a sub-inspector or any officer of State Food or Drug Administration or any other officer, holding the equivalent rank being not below the rank of Sub-Inspector of Police, authorised by the Central Government or by the State Government may, if he has any reason to suspect that any provision of this Act has been, or is being, contravened, enter and search in the manner prescribed, at any reasonable time, any factory, building, business premises or any other place,

a. where any trade or commerce in cigarettes or any other tobacco products is carried on or cigarettes or any other tobacco products are produced, supplied or distributed; or 

b. where any advertisement of the cigarettes or any other tobacco products has been or is being made.

(2) The provisions of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973, shall apply to every search and seizure made under this Act.

Section 13 of COTPA 2003 reads: (1) If any police officer, not below the rank of a sub-inspector or any officer of State Food or Drug Administration or any other officer, holding the equivalent rank being not below the rank of Sub-Inspector of Police, authorised by the Central Government or by the State Government, has any reason to believe that, 

a. in respect of any package of cigarettes or any other tobacco products, or
b. in respect of any advertisement of cigarettes or any other tobacco products, 

the provisions of this Act have been, or are being, contravened, he may seize such package or advertisement material in the manner prescribed.

(2) No package of cigarettes or any other tobacco products or advertisement material seized under clause (a) of sub-section (1) shall be retained by the officer who seized the package or advertisement material for a period exceeding ninety days from the date of the seizure unless the approval of the District Judge, within the local limits of whose jurisdiction such seizure was made, has been obtained for such retention.
Read more ...

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


Read more ...

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

Read more ...

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.
Read more ...