Vishal Rao, oncologist, has said that work pressure or stress should not be a reason or excuse for people to smoke or consume tobacco products as, according to him, there are many better means to get relief from stress.

Dr. Rao was participating in a training-cum-sensitisation workshop for police officials from Bijapur and Bagalkot districts on Cigarette and Other Tobacco Products (Prohibition and Protection) Act (COTPA), organised by the Cancer Prevention project, Institute of Public Health, and the Department of Health and Family Welfare, here on Thursday.

Consumption of tobacco products was one of the leading causes of death across the world. More than 10 lakh people in India were dying every year due to consumption of tobacco or smoking.

Every packet of tobacco products contained over 6,000 harmful chemicals. However, it was regrettable that no steps were being taken to fully ban the cultivation of tobacco in the world, he said.

Passive smoking was more dangerous than active smoking. More than 6,000 children were getting admitted to hospitals every year in the country for various ailments caused by passive smoking, he said.

“ Of late, cases of sudden infant death syndrome have increased due to people smoking in their houses, without bothering about the health of their children. We have come across several cases of healthy babies going to sleep at night found dead in the morning. Such cases are the result of people smoking continuously in the room, which causes suffocation to the baby,” Dr. Rao said.

While interacting with cancer patients, he used to ask where were all the friends, with whom they (patients) had enjoyed smoking. “People addicted to tobacco or smoking should realise that if they got cancer by any chance, no one, including their close friends, who were once enjoying smoking with them, will spend some time with them. Except some close relatives or spouse, no one else will be with them, which is the harsh reality,” he said.

Later, he explained the important features of COTPA to police officials and how the Act could be effectively implemented.

To a question, he said the government had now decided to reduce the number of permission to tobacco plantation by 10 to 15 per cent every year, and encourage tobacco farmers to go for alternative crops.

Superintendent of Police Ajay Hilori, his Bagalkot counterpart Eshwarchand Vidyasagar, and police officials were present.