Must combat dual burden of smoking & smokeless tobacco in India: Experts

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New Delhi, Feb 16 (IANS) It is imperative to combat the dual burden of smoking and smokeless tobacco in India, health experts and policymakers contended at the sixth National Conference on Tobacco or Health held in the national capital on Friday.

India faces an alarming toll of over 1 million annual deaths attributed to tobacco use.

The nation is also in an ambitious race against time to achieve a tobacco-free status by 2025.

“It is important to combat the dual burden of smoking and smokeless tobacco, which currently affects nearly 29 per cent of Indian adults,” said Dr. Prof. Sutapa B Neogi, Director of International Institute of Health Management Research (IIHMR), Delhi.

She also emphasised the need for collective action to drive impactful change in tobacco control policies and practices.

The three-day conference from February 16-18 has been organised by the IIHMR in collaboration with the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, and is themed “Towards Tobacco-Free India – An Audacious Race Against Time”, at the India Habitat Centre in New Delhi.

Dr. Atul Goel, Director General of Health Services (DGHS), highlighted the critical role of multisectoral intervention in navigating the country towards a healthier future.

He emphasised the need for a concerted effort across various sectors to tackle the deep-rooted issue of tobacco use in society.

He also underlined India’s position as the 4th largest global producer of tobacco in 2021, highlighting the magnitude of the challenge.

Early in January, the World Health Organisation (WHO) in a report stated that India is on track to achieve a 30 per cent relative reduction in tobacco use prevalence by 2025, relative to 2010. “India needs adaptive strategies and legislative measures to counter the tobacco industry’s relentless creativity in introducing new products,” said Prof. K. Srinath Reddy, from Population Health Foundation of India (PHFI).

Reddy also emphasised the imperative need for collective action to combat the parasitic and water-consuming nature of tobacco cultivation, advocating for continued efforts to counteract the industry’s influence on health professionals and policymakers.



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