Wednesday, 25 November 2015

Tobacco litter a potential threat

Tobacco use has not only been inducing cancer but is also leaving the environment polluted, spreading diseases and possibly contaminating food, says a body of oncologists in Kolkata. 

Cigarette and bidi butts, along with chewing tobacco spits littered on streets, should be classified as toxic wastes, they have claimed, pointing to a recent application filed by a doctors' organization with the National Green Tribunal. The possibility of tobacco litter was sharper in Kolkata since the city has more smokers that most other metros, according to Bengal Oncology Foundation. 

Responding to an application filed by Mumbai-based NGO Doctors for You, the NGT has directed the Union ministries of environment and health and the Central Pollution Control Board to file their response on the harm caused by cigarette, bidi butts and chewing tobacco to the environment. 

"Cigarette butts consist of carcinogens, nicotine and toxic metals such as cadmium, arsenic and lead in a highly concentrated form. All these pose high risk to public health. Action must be taken at the earliest to contain such hazardous litter, said Subir Ganguly, Vice President, Bengal Oncology. 

He added that the possibility of cigarette butts transmitting diseases couldn't be ruled out. "In Kolkata, it is not uncommon for people, even children, to smoke cigarette or bidi ends picked up from the road. Apart from the metals that the ends contain, they could also transmit diseases. Tobacco spits, on the other hand, are even more infectious since they have saliva which helps to transmit diseases," explained Ganguly. 

Research has shown that about 25%-50% of litter accumulated from the streets comprises tobacco residues. A 100 billion non-biodegradable butts are released in the environment every year. 

The possibility of tobacco contamination was a real one, said oncologist Gautam Mukhopadhyay, Secretary of Bengal Oncology. 

"Food sold on the streets is vulnerable since they remain uncovered. 

Utensils used by hawkers are often washed and stored very close to garbage dumps full of tobacco wastes," he added. 

Doctors for You cited the example of the Howrah Bridge, whose pillars are corroding due to acids in tobacco spit. "We need to build awareness on the of littering. Unless habits change, it will be difficult to curb tobacco litter," said Kalyan Rudra, Chairman of the State Pollution Control Board. 

Even though smoking in and around hospitals, government offices and educational institutions is prohibited, the rule is routinely flouted in Kolkata. 

Most hospital staircases and corridors in the city are heavily smeared with tobacco spits and peppered with cigarette ends. "Nothing could be more unhealthy than this since patients are more susceptible to infections. Unless smoking in public was banned, it would be difficult to control tobacco litter, felt Ganguly.

Source: Times of India

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Friday, 13 November 2015

Seek adventure in sports and higher career goals, not tobacco: Manisha Koirala

Children should find adventure in sports and higher career goals and not be drawn to tobacco use for the temporary excitement it provides, popular pan-India actress Ms Manisha Koirala said.

In a personal message addressed to “dear people of Kerala” in connection with Children’s Day, Ms Koirala who has successfully battled cancer, urged children to keep away from dangerous vices such as tobacco use.

The ‘Dil Se’ actress also wished “all children a very healthy and joyous life.”

Ms Koirala, a Goodwill Ambassador of the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), hailed the Tobacco Free Kerala campaign as a model worthy of emulation by the rest of the country.

“I take this opportunity to congratulate the Kerala Government headed by the Hon’ble Chief Minister Shri Oommen Chandy for initiating this campaign for promoting healthy lifestyles,” she wrote.

Significantly, it was on Children’s Day last year that Kerala was declared the first state in India to become tobacco advertisement-free at the points of sale. This achievement driven by the Health and Police Departments has brought Kerala fame both nationally and internationally.

Ms Koirala has portrayed roles of chain-smoking characters. Numerous scientific studies have shown that smoking, exposure to second-hand smoke and tobacco use causes cancer.
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Friday, 30 October 2015

Tobacco responsible for 90 cent of lung cancers: Dr VP Gangadharan

Tobacco was responsible for 90 per cent of lung cancers as well as some 30-40 per cent of general cancers, said Dr V.P. Gangadharan,  head of Medical and Paediatric Oncology, Lakeshore Hospital.

Total tobacco ban was thus the single-most public health intervention which could have a major impact on the cancer scenario, anywhere in the world he said while addressing a cancer awareness programme organised for the employees of Kerala Legislative Assembly in Trivandrum.

Among male cancer patients in Kerala, 32 per cent have lung cancer and 28 per cent, head and neck cancers. Among women patients, 34 per cent had breast cancer and 20 per cent, cancer of the uterine cervix. Generally, prostate cancer, colorectal and thyroid cancers are on the rise in Kerala.

Not just cancers of the breast/head and neck/cervix, those of colorectal and prostate too could be detected early. This meant that 60 per cent of cancers among males and over 50 per cent of cancers among women in the State were treatable if detected early.

Dr. Gangadharan said that today one in three women coming to the OP clinic were being diagnosed with breast cancer. According to a projection by NCRP-ICMR, Kerala could have 8,500 cases every year by 2030.

Breast cancer increase is clearly linked to lifestyle – obesity, lack of physical activity and a diet which was predominantly meat-based and less in plant foods and dietary fibre. 

“A woman should realise that she stands a one in eight chance of developing breast cancer during her lifetime. Regular self examination is the best way to detect breast cancer early,” he said.

Source: The Hindu
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Friday, 16 October 2015

Tobacco Control Champion citation conferred on Kerala Chief Minister

Dr Paul Sebastian, Director, Regional Cancer Centre and Vice Chairman, Tobacco Free Kerala and Shri Sukumaran, a tobacco-induced oral cancer victim conferring the citation of 'Tobacco Control Champion' on Hon'ble Kerala Chief Minister Shri Oommen Chandy at his official residence Cliff House on
2 October. 

The citation is signed by Dr Sebastian and Dr KR Thankappan, Prof and Head, Achutha Menon Centre for Health Science Studies of SCTIMST. 

It is a token of appreciation and gratitude by Kerala's tobacco control fraternity for the Chief Minister's outstanding leadership to the cause of public health in Kerala through far-reaching tobacco control measures over the past four years. 

A note on Global Adult Tobacco Survey (GATS) 2016 was also submitted to the Chief Minister. GATS is the global standard initiated by the World Health Organisation to systematically monitor adult tobacco use and track key tobacco control indicators. The next round of GATS is expected to begin in India and Kerala during January 2016.

62-year-old Sukumaran also shared his experiences with Shri Chandy. 
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Wednesday, 14 October 2015

Government to launch 'M Cessation' to help kick tobacco habit

There is good news for people wanting to quit tobacco. 

The government will soon offer a mobile phone-based intervention to tobacco users where they will be counselled to kick the habit.

The Union Health Ministry will launch "Mobile(m) Cessation" to develop tobacco use abstinence among people interested in quitting. 

As part of the programme, tobacco users can enroll themselves by giving a missed call to a particular phone number after which they will be asked three to four questions through SMS like their educational qualifications, work status and the age of onset of tobacco use. 

After these details are fed into the system, the tobacco users will start getting three to four messages daily which will counsel and consistently motivate them to quit tobacco, said Additional Director (Health) S K Arora, who is coordinating this project on behalf of the Delhi government. 

"We can quit smoking and chewable tobacco use or any other substance abuse by strengthening our will power, the way we stop use of such products suddenly during religious days like Navratra etc. 

"This m cessation will strengthen the will power of a tobacco user through counselling and consistently motivate them to quit the habit," said Dr Arora. 

"Mobile phones are used by a large number of people because of which we believe that these will play a key role in encouraging people  .. 

India is home to the world's second largest number of tobacco users (around 275 million). The Government of India had last year set a target of reducing tobacco use by 20 per cent by 2020 and 30 per cent by 2025. 

Forty per cent of all cancers, 90 per cent of oral cancers and 30 per cent of TB cases are due to tobacco use. In India, 9-10 lakh people die every year due to tobacco habits, according to government data. 

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Sunday, 4 October 2015

Economic burden from tobacco-induced heart diseases highest in Kerala amongst southern states

Cardiovascular diseases (CVDs) account for a staggering Rs 226 crore economic burden annually, the highest among four major tobacco-induced ailments in Kerala, contributing to 51 per cent of total direct medical costs.

Significantly, the total direct medical costs from tobacco-induced CVDs in Kerala are the highest among south Indian states, says a latest report.

The report is based on study called ‘Economic Burden of Tobacco Related Diseases in India’ developed by Public Health Foundation of India (PHFI) with support from the Union Ministry of Health & Family Welfare and the World Health Organisation (WHO).

The study report covers both direct medical costs and indirect morbidity costs of four specific diseases – CVDs, cancer, tuberculosis, and respiratory disease.

The direct medical costs from tobacco-related heart diseases in neighbouring Tamil Nadu is 46 per cent, while those in Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka are at 48 and 40 per cent, respectively.

Smoking tobacco contributes to the highest economic burden among Kerala males with direct costs of Rs 123.5 crores, and indirect costs of Rs 62.7 crores.  

The report estimated the economic costs on persons in the 35–69 age group in 2011.

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 on transportation and lodging for caregivers and loss of household income due to inpatient hospitalisation, besides costs from premature deaths. 

According to the Global Adult Tobacco Survey (GATS) 2009-10, the global standard to systematically monitor adult tobacco use, 35.5 per cent of males use tobacco in some form, 27.9 per cent males smoke and 13.1 per cent use smokeless tobacco products.

The economic burden study has suggested a host of measures to deal with the tobacco menace. These include strengthening implementation of Indian tobacco control law, COTPA, 2003 and imposing uniform taxes on all tobacco products like cigarettes and bidis. It has also recommended prohibition of sale and manufacture of all forms of smokeless tobacco products/chewing tobacco and high visibility public awareness campaigns to consistently reach out to different target audiences.
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Wednesday, 16 September 2015

Smokers at increased risk of tooth loss

Regular and heavy smokers have a significantly increased risk of tooth loss, warns a study. 

Male smokers are up to 3.6 times more likely to lose their teeth than non-smokers, whereas female smokers have 2.5 times greater risk, the findings showed. 

“Most teeth are lost as a result of either Caries (tooth decay) or Chronic Periodontitis (gum disease). We know that smoking is a strong risk factor for Periodontitis, so that may go a long way towards explaining the higher rate of tooth loss in smokers,” said Lead Author Thomas Dietrich, Professor at University of Birmingham in England. 

Tooth loss remains a major public health problem worldwide. Nearly 30 percent of 65-74 year olds in the world are Edentate (have lost all of their natural teeth), the study said. 

Smoking can mask gum bleeding, a key symptom of Periodontitis. As a result, the gums of a smoker can appear to be healthier than they actually are.

“It is really unfortunate that smoking can hide the effects of gum disease as people often don’t see the problem until it is quite far down the line,” Dietrich noted.

“The good news is that quitting smoking can reduce the risk fairly quickly. Eventually, an ex-smoker would have the same risk for tooth loss as someone who had never smoked, although this can take more than ten years,” Dietrich pointed out.

The findings are based on data from 23,376 participants.

The study aimed to evaluate the associations between smoking, smoking cessation and tooth loss in three different age groups.

The association between smoking and tooth loss was stronger among younger people than in the older groups.

In addition, the results clearly demonstrated that the association was dose-dependent; heavy smokers had higher risk of losing their teeth than smokers who smoked fewer cigarettes.

The study was published in the Journal of Dental Research.

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Thursday, 10 September 2015

India among 11 South Asian countries to sign anti-tobacco declaration

Health ministers from 11 countries of the WHO South-East Asia region, including India, on Monday signed a declaration pledging to accelerate hard-hitting measures to reduce tobacco use, the WHO said in a statement. With tobacco killing 150 people every hour in the region, the ministers — gathered in the Timor-Leste capital of Dili for the inaugural session of the 68th Regional Committee Meeting of the WHO South-East Asia region — expressed their concern over high tobacco consumption. 

‘Tobacco use in South-East Asia is alarmingly high, triggering major health and economic consequences. Tougher actions are needed for tobacco control and prevention,’ said Poonam Khetrapal Singh, regional director of WHO South-East Asia region. ‘Countries must equally tax all tobacco products, ban tobacco advertisements, enforce pictorial warning on cigarette packs and implement ban on public smoking,’ she added.

The Dili Declaration called on governments, United Nations agencies and partners to accelerate tobacco control in the region which accounts for over one-third of the world’s tobacco use. ‘Tobacco kills 1.3 million people in the region every year, including people who were exposed to second-hand and third-hand tobacco effects. It is also home to 25 percent of the world’s smokers and 90 percent of the world’s smokeless tobacco users,’ the statement said. 

Tobacco use has been identified as one of the major risk factors for serious diseases of the lung, heart, and cancer. In 2012, an estimated 62 percent deaths in the region were attributed to non-communicable diseases; of these 48 percent were below 70 years. Highlighting the fact that premature deaths were not only a loss to the families, but also have a huge economic impact on the country, Singh said there was an urgent need to ‘enforce stringent policies and measures to help people reduce and eventually quit tobacco’. 

‘WHO recommends enhancing awareness on the ill-effects of all types of tobacco products; effective control measures to reduce tobacco consumption and counter-interference of tobacco industry; strengthening taxation systems on tobacco products to reduce consumption, and enhancing surveillance, research and cessation of tobacco use,’ she said. 

Source: The Health Site
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Saturday, 5 September 2015

Never tried to promote tobacco and alcohol: Sachin Tendulkar

Master blaster Sachin Tendulkar, who has been an inspiring cricketer and ad icon for nearly three decades, has said that he as a brand ambassador has never tried to promote tobacco and alcohol.

"One thing my father told me... try not to promote tobacco and alcohol. So those are the two things I stayed away from," he said at the final day of a three-day summit organised by International Advertising Association (India chapter) in Kochi as part of its silver jubilee celebrations.

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