Trivandrum, 31 May – The Government will take strong action against substances such as tobacco, alcohol or other drugs that cause harm to the human body. Concerted action will be taken up against tobacco and drug use, said Hon’ble Minister for Health and Family Welfare Smt KK Shyalaja while inaugurating the World No Tobacco Day observance event here today.
The Health Minister, formerly a teacher, expressed concerns over the increasing availability of pan masala and other drugs in the form of candies near educational institutions. She called upon all enforcement agencies to identify the availability of these products and initiate stringent action.
In his presidential address, Hon’ble Minister for Electricity & Devaswom Shri Kadakampally Surendran said that schools and colleges are continuing to be centres of easy availability of pan masala, tobacco products and other drugs. “Continued efforts are needed with the support of civil society to achieve success in reining tobacco use in our state,” he added.
Director, Subhodham, Government of Kerala Dr K Ambady who delivered the keynote address said that collective and coordinated action that hinges on a three-pronged approach including supply, demand and harm reduction strategies are required for bringing down use of tobacco, alcohol and other drugs.
Dr Paul Sebastian, Director, Regional Cancer Centre (RCC), while delivering the welcome address said there is a need for generating awareness against tobacco harms in youngsters between the ages of 10 and 20 years. “Youngsters should be made ambassadors for propagating tobacco harms leading to the creation of a tobacco free society,” he added.
The Health Minister also gave away the media award for best article on cancer instituted to Regional Cancer Association (RCA) to Shri Santhosh Sisupalan, Senior Sub Editor, ‘Manorama Arogyam’. TKM Arts and Science College, Kollam won the award for the best cancer detection camp held in association with NSS volunteers.
Dr R Ramesh, Director of Health Services (DHS); Dr KR Thankappan, Prof and Head, Achutha Menon Centre for Health Science Studies of SCTIMST; Shri Johnson J Edayaranmula, Director, ADIC-India and Hon.Advisor, Subhodham and Dr Babu Mathew, Hon.Secretary, RCA also spoke in the inaugural session.
The importance of advocacy for tobacco control came to the fore as Dr Babu Mathew spoke on the topic "Battle against tobacco - the RCC experience”. Dr KR Thankappan while speaking on the “Relevance of tobacco cessation programmes in India” said both prevention and control are needed to address tobacco, a silent killer.
Dr. AS Pradeep Kumar, Former Addl.DHS & Senior Research Officer, Achutha Menon Centre for Health Sciences Studies apprised participants on “Legal aspects of tobacco control” by highlighting various sections of Indian tobacco control law COTPA, 2003.
A panel discussion on the topic “Towards Tobacco Free Educational Institutions in Kerala – Experiences, Challenges & Plans Ahead” and ensuing discussions witnessed thoughts on the need for self-control, role of students and peers in curbing tobacco use in schools, counseling students with love and care and migrants as suppliers of these products.
Dr Bipin Gopal, Assistant Director of Health Services and State Nodal Officer, NTCP and NCD; Dr Binoy S Babu, Junior Administrative Officer, DHS; Smt Anila George, Joint Director (Academic), DPI; Shri Saju Itty, Executive Director, Kerala Voluntary Health Services and Shri S Jayaraj, State Coordinator, Tobacco Free Kerala spoke. Shri Surendran Chunakara, PRO, RCC moderated the discussion.
Dr R Jayakrishnan, RCC made the closing remarks in the function in which School Health Nurses, Student Police Cadets, NCC cadets and NSS volunteers were present.
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