Programmes held in city on World No Tobacco Day

Several programmes were organised in the city as part of World No Tobacco Day on Monday. From human chains to street plays to placards, the underlying message of the events was use of tobacco in any form was injurious to health and should be stopped at the earliest. The theme this year was ‘Gender and Tobacco with an emphasis on marketing to woman.'

At a function held on Elliots beach, the Directorate of Public Health and Preventive Medicine, in association with Population Service International, launched a quit smoking helpline (9500095642) to fight tobacco use. The event was organised by State Tobacco Control Cell in association with UniverCell and The Hindu.

Speaking on the occasion, R. Narayanaswamy, Joint Director, Health Education Bureau-cum-State Tobacco Control Officer, said passive smokers could also call the number if they found people smoking in public places.

One cigarette smoke contains around 4,000 toxic substances, some of which are cancerous for the health and it must be stubbed out, he said.

R.T. Porkaipandian, Director of Public Health and Preventive Medicine, said 100 crore people smoke in a year, of which 50 lakh die and the majority of them affected are adolescents.

In keeping with this year's theme, actor Dhamu spoke on the role women can play in helping their spouses and persons known to them quit the habit.

A large number of people, especially women, gathered on Elliots beach to form a human chain, witness the unveiling of new poster campaigns and see a folk dance performed.

The guests of honour at the function included Ramesh Barath, vice-president (marketing), UniverCell; S. Shankar Narayanan, Regional Director (South India), Population Service International; and M.P. Saravanan, head-HR (Chennai region), Tata Consultancy Services.

At a campaign and cycle rally organised by the Indian Dental Association – Madras Branch, the focus was on oral cancer, the eighth most common cancer in the world and the top among males in India. About 90 per cent of this cancer is caused by using tobacco, experts said.

The diagnosis of oral cancer is most of the time done by dentists, giving them a very important role in prevention.

IDA members and students from 13 dental colleges in Chennai, led by S.M. Balaji, president, and V.Rangarajan, secretary, IDA Madras, marched along the Marina in the morning. They displayed posters, banners, slogans and street plays depicting the ill effects of tobacco use. Pamphlets explaining the same were distributed to the general public. T-shirts commemorating the event were given to all the participants.

Union Minister of State, Information & Broadcasting S. Jagathrakshagan, who flagged off the rally, also administered the ‘anti-tobacco oath.'

Sowmya Anbumani, president, Pasumai Thayagam, flagged off a cycle rally held by the organisation in Chennai near Memorial Hall. About 20 tri-cycles carrying anti-tobacco messages will travel to all parts of Chennai for one month. They will also distribute handbills and pamphlets that highlight the ill effects of smoking or using chewable tobacco and encourage users to quit.