The best way to bid adieu to tobacco is perhaps to ensure that those who give it up are rewarded.
At Abirami Mall, five volunteers who offered to quit smoking on Sunday received free entry to one of its popular entertainment stalls.
The mall's executive director Nallammai Ramanathan said the free entry was a reward for the young volunteers' decision to shun cigarettes.
Earlier, she inaugurated the signature campaign ahead of World No Tobacco Day to be observed on Tuesday.
The campaign will be carried forward by cancer patients from Cancer Institute, Adyar, to the Chief Minister.
Health officials including Director of Public Health R.T. Porkaipandian, State Tobacco Control Officer P. Vadivelan, Corporation Health Officer P. Kuganantham, secretary of Indian Dental Association, Madras Branch, V. Rengarajan and E. Vidhubala, Tobacco Cessation Clinic, Cancer Institute, reiterated the need to wean youngsters from tobacco, the use of which killed around 2,500 persons every day in the country.
Across the city in seven malls and in three parks, Balaji Dental College students staged street plays and volunteers from various non-governmental organisations distributed flyers against tobacco use. According to P. Vadivelan, State Tobacco Control Officer, awareness is key to avoiding tobacco.
The NGOs who have been roped in will use education/promotional material developed by the various stakeholders.
‘Smoke free slums'
On Thursday last, a weeklong awareness programme for “smoke free” slums were launched in 15 localities in the city. The slums have been adopted by various NGOs, who will educate and guide the youth to campaign against sale of tobacco to and by minors. Residents will be screened for tobacco-induced ailments and pamphlets about ills of tobacco use will be distributed.
So far in the State 41,737 persons who were found smoking in public have been fined. A total of Rs.47,15,445 has been collected since Oct. 2, 2008, when the ban on smoking in public places came into force, Dr. Vadivelan said.
At the valedictory of the weeklong World No Tobacco Day programmes on Tuesday, the Health Minister will launch ‘Wish2stop', a quickline phone-in help service to be provided by NGO Population Services International.
Abraham Lincon, Coordinator for tobacco cessation programme, PSI, said: “A person can call us on the dedicated helpline and we will provide trained counsellors to help with tobacco cessation. Referral services will also be available through doctors for nicotine replacement therapy. The service will be provided for three months. A web-enabled service for those who wish to opt for self-help material is also being offered.”
A documentary film on tobacco cessation titled ‘Third World War' and a walkathon will mark the day.