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Tuesday, May 21, 2024

Cyclothon conducted on World No Tobacco Day

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HT Bureau
GUWAHATI, May 30: 
Consumers’ Legal Protection Forum, Assam in collaboration with State Tobacco Control Cell, Directorate of Health Services, government of Assam, Consumer VOICE, Delhi and Guwahati Cycling Community organised a cyclothon in Guwahati on the occasion of World No Tobacco Day. The event was organised on Tuesday morning and it was on the theme ‘Strengthen Tobacco Control Law to Save Lives’.
More two hundred students, sportspersons, doctors, lawyers, social activists, journalists and government officials participated in the cyclothon. The cyclothon started from Veterinary College Field, Khanapara to Ulubari and back to Khanapara.
Abhinash Joshi, principal secretary, Health & Family Welfare department, government of Assam in his inaugural speech said, “It is alarming that children and teens are being lured towards tobacco addiction. This is dangerous. Strict implementation of Tobacco Control Law to save our children from tobacco addiction is an immediate task. It is the need of the hour to save our younger generation from tobacco.”
The cyclists conducted an awareness drive among the common people and appealed to the government of India to strengthen the Tobacco Control Law in the upcoming session of Parliament. They displayed placards with slogans to and also urged to remove the designated smoking areas to make India 100 percent smoke free and to ban the point of sale to save the younger children and youth from the menace of tobacco.
Dr Nilmadhab Das, director of health services; Phuleswar Basumatary, deputy commissioner of taxes; Dr Ashok Das, professor, Dr B Borooah Cancer Institute: Dr Munindra Narayan Baruah, director, North East Cancer Hospital & Research Institute; Dr Subrata Chanda, Assam Cancer Care Foundation (Tata Trust); Dr Amal Ch Kataki, ex director, Dr B Borooah Cancer Institute; Dr Arundhati Deka, state nodal officer, NTCP and Dr Tapan Das, joint secretary, Cycling Federation of India flagged off the cyclothon at 6:30 am.
In their speech, the dignitaries said that nearly 50 percent of all cancers in India are due to tobacco. Smoking worsens lung function and reduces immunity. The nationwide survey of students revealed that nearly one-fifth of students aged 13-15 years are using tobacco products in India. In Assam, children are falling into the trap of tobacco menace and about 12 percent of students consume tobacco in any form.
Advocate Ajoy Hazarika, secretary of Consumers’ Legal Protection Forum, Assam moderated the event and said, “More than 68 percent of cigarette smokers and 76 percent of beedi smokers buy their cigarettes and beedis from street vendors, paan shops and stores. 38 percent of cigarettes, 47 percent of beedi and 52 percent of smokeless tobacco users picked up this habit before their 10th birthday. 9.5 percent of the students were exposed to second-hand smoke. There is an urgent need to initiate and strengthen the Tobacco Control Law as this is an important step towards improving public health.”
The cyclists took an oath to build a tobacco free society during the programme. Ekta Purohit, Consumer VOICE, New Delhi who participated in the cyclothon said that India has the second largest number of tobacco users (268 million or 28.6 percent of all adults in India) in the world – of these at least 1.3 million die every year from tobacco related diseases.
“One million deaths are due to smoking, with over 200,000 due to second-hand smoke exposure, and over 35,000 are due to smokeless tobacco use. A staggering 42.4 percent of men and 14.2 percent of women currently use tobacco,” Purohit added.

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