Concerted governmental and public effort required to reduce tobacco consumption

Health experts discuss measures to meet UN Sustainable Development Goal

Thiruvananthapuram December 23: Every citizen and every government department have a role to play in bringing down Kerala’s tobacco consumption, said experts at the seminar here on “Tobacco Use: Preparing Kerala to meet the UN Sustainable Development Goal (SDG)”.

Under the health target of the UN SDGs, the aim is to bring down global tobacco use by 30 per cent, a target, which has been adopted by the Kerala government.

“As a major step forward, tobacco control has been included in the state health policy. Along with this, preventing initiation by non-users and youngsters, increasing taxes on tobacco products, strict enforcement of laws, and strengthening cessation and counselling services, are what we need to prepare Kerala to meet the targeted reduction,” said RCC Director and Tobacco Free Kerala Chairman Dr Paul Sebastian.

Dr KR Thankappan, Professor and Head, Achutha Menon Centre of SCTIMST and Vice Chairman, Tobacco Free Kerala cited studies over the past three decades to show that there has been a dip and stagnation in tobacco use. “We have to look forward to the next Global Adult Tobacco Survey (GATS) results to know the current patterns in tobacco use. People do not know that tobacco use causes not only cancer, but also cardiovascular, respiratory and other ailments. This has to be brought to the forefront,” he said.

While anchoring the open discussions, Dr AS Pradeep Kumar, Senior Research Officer, Achutha Menon Centre and Advisor, Tobacco Free Kerala appealed to the public to react to tobacco control violations in public places. “This will enable better enforcement of laws. We need a coordinated effort by all stakeholders to achieve our target.”

Highlighting tobacco control activities in the state in the last five years, Dr Bipin Gopal, Assistant Director, Directorate of Health Services, Government of Kerala, noted that Kerala was the first state in India to wipe out tobacco advertisements at the points of sale. He also talked about the Safe Kerala campaign, which has been taking up integrated tobacco control efforts.

Shri S Jayaraj, State Coordinator, Tobacco Free Kerala also spoke.


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