Two men smoking at a makeshift bus stop on Father Muller Medical College campus, Kankanady, made two young women to cough convulsively. One of them angrily said, “Don’t you know smoking in public is prohibited? If you want to ruin your health, go ahead but don’t ruin ours, too.”

This was soon followed by a group of women joining them and singing about the harmful effects of tobacco in tunes they composed. As they held hands and solemnly proclaimed, “Say no to tobacco”, the audience cheered them, during the street play competition that was held at the college on Monday evening as a prelude to the World No Tobacco Day on May 31.

All four groups, comprising nursing students from the college, had the audience in splits with jokes ranging from making chalk cigarettes to substituting the song ‘No Entry’ with ‘No Tambaku’.

Earlier, Prasanna Mithra, Assistant Professor, Department of Community Medicine, Kasturba Medical College, Mangalore, spoke on ‘tobacco cessation and the youth’. He said: “You cannot name any organ system that isn’t affected by tobacco” and stressed that parents needed to advise their children against tobacco use. Replying to a student’s question about herbal cigarettes, he said that there was no proof that it was completely harmless.

Melanie Pinto, Student Animator of the Student Development Committee, said that on May 31 they had planned a special programme at the Health Centre, Jyothinagar, where the winner of the street play competition would perform. As one street play artiste declared, “This isn’t only for your entertainment. This is to create awareness about tobacco addiction and rehabilitation. Say no to tobacco and yes to life”.  

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