Task Force in Assam to curb tobacco & drug abuse
GUWAHATI: Assam records the highest number of cancer related deaths among other Northeastern States. during the year 2011-12, Assam recorded 4443 such cases followed by Meghalaya with 101 cases, Manipur with 38 cases, Mizoram with 59 cases, Nagaland with 84 cases , Arunachal 65 and Tripura with 14 cases.
India is the second most populous country in the world and also the third largest producer and consumer of tobacco in the world. Adolescents are the most vulnerable population to initiate tobacco use. Most adults who give in to tobacco consumption often initiate its use in their teenage years. It may be noted that developed nations have seen a perpetual fall in smoking habits while the developing countries like India is facing an increase in the problem, manly due to aggressive marketing strategies.
Reacting on the sidelines of the Supreme Court's direction to implement a rule mandating 85% pictorial warning on tobacco products, Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi on Saturday stated that the Assam Government has ordered the setting up of a task force to check the supply and use of tobacco and drugs across the state. Gogoi also asked the department to keep a close eye on drug abuse.
Expressing concern over the alarming rates of cancer deaths in the state, Gogoi said that various initiatives will be taken up to check the supply of drugs in the state. He also made mention of a centrally located racket in Manipur and Arunachal Pradesh that has been supplying drugs across the state.
Earlier on April 1, the Union Health Ministry put up a notification for the implementation of COTPA (Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products Act) which mandated increasing the size of health warning to 85% of the principal display area on tobacco packets.
It may be noted that even though the incidences of death from tobacco are on the rise, the level of awareness among the people is very low. Mostly, deaths occur due to late detection of the cancer. It has also been observed that 80 per cent of the patients report to hospitals at a later stage whereby chances of recovery stands decreased. Hence, it is important to organize various mass awareness programmes pertaining to the issue, especially in the school, college and degree level to emphasise on the need of the hour for a healthy living.