47 percent prevalence of tobacco use in Meghalaya

Shillong, May 30: The prevalence of tobacco use in Meghalaya is 47 percent of all forms of tobacco, authorities said on Saturday.

According to State Nodal Officer for National Tobacco Control Programne, Dr Lana L Nongbri among the users, 59.8 percent were male and 34.2 percent were female.

“According to Global Adult Tobacco Survey 2 (2016 -2017), Meghalaya ranks 5th with 47 percent tobacco users, second in the country at 31.6 percent in smoking next to Mizoram and 15th in the country for smokeless forms at 20.3 percent,” Dr Nongbri said.

According to the State Nodal Officer, there are 1.3 billion tobacco users worldwide and nearly 9 million people die every year worldwide, 8 million as a direct consequence of this habit and out of which 1 million deaths as a result of exposure to second hand or passive smoking.

As per the statistic South East Asian Region where India is located is home to one-fifth of the world’s smokers (237 million) and home to 80% of world’s tobacco users (301 million) where nearly 1.6 million die each year in the region because of tobacco use.

“Tobacco control remains a challenge to countries having diverse populations with large population of youth, tobacco cultivation, variety of tobacco products being available and consumed, rampant tobacco industry interference, illicit trade happening in large and porous borders, limited capacity for product regulation,” Dr Nongbri said.

It may be mentioned that ‘World No Tobacco Day’ is observed on May 31 every year.

This year’s theme is “Protecting Youth from Industry Manipulation and preventing them from Tobacco and Nicotine use” with an objective to empower youth and encourage them to be the torch bearers in the big campaign to fight against tobacco use and particularly of the manipulation strategies that tobacco industry adopts to attract and trap young people into the captivation of tobacco use.

According to Dr Nongbri, this year’s campaign will provide a counter marketing campaign and empower youth to engage in the fight against “Big Tobacco”.

She said that this campaign will serve to debunk myths and expose marketing tactics employed by the tobacco and related industries, equip youth with knowledge about the tobacco and related industries’ intentions and empower influencers (in pop culture, social media, homes, or classrooms) to protect and defend youth and catalyze change by engaging them in the fight against Big Tobacco.

According to the Nodal Officer NTCP industries are manipulating youth through use of flavours and sleek design that are attractive to youth and the promotion of products as “reduced harm” or “cleaner” alternatives that contain nicotine in the form of Electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDs) such as e-cigarettes, e-pipes, e-hookahs and Electronic Non Nicotine Delivery System (ENNDS).

According to Dr Nongbri there is a need to empower youths to stand up to Big Tobacco by dispelling its lies and refusing to use its products.

She said that social media companies should Ban advertising, promotion and sponsorship by tobacco industries. Films, television production companies should pledge not to depict tobacco or e-cigarette use. Parents and Relatives must educate children on harm of nicotine and tobacco product use.

“Empower them to reject industry manipulation. Nurses and Health practitioners ought to provide updated information about risks associated with use of these products and empower users to quit through the offer of brief cessation advice,” she said.

De Nongbri said that schools can raise awareness of the dangers of nicotine and tobacco use by adoption of tobacco free campuses, and refuse any form of sponsorship from nicotine and tobacco companies.

“Local Governments are bound to Support the implementation of tobacco control policies as outlined in WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control,” she added.