‘Donate a cigarette’ campaign

SHARING A POINT: Union Health Minister Anbumani Ramadoss with Dr. V. Shanta, Chairman, Cancer Institute, Adyar, at the No Tobacco Day event, on Saturday.

SHARING A POINT: Union Health Minister Anbumani Ramadoss with Dr. V. Shanta, Chairman, Cancer Institute, Adyar, at the No Tobacco Day event, on Saturday.   | Photo Credit: — Photo: R. Ragu

Special Correspondent

It was flagged off from the Cancer Institute

CHENNAI: Groups of volunteers fanned out across the city early Saturday morning urging people to donate cigarettes to them, in a novel way of observing World No Tobacco Day. The slogan of the Donate A Cigarette campaign was “Donate a cigarette and gain 14 minutes of your life.”

The campaign was flagged off from the Cancer Institute (WIA) by the Director of Public Health (In charge) S.Elango and the Institute’s chairman V.Shanta. Trained volunteers went over to 20 spots in the city, including railway stations, bus stands and shopping malls, asking people to donate cigarettes and sachets of other tobacco products like gutka, pan masala and zarda. By giving away that cigarette or sachet, volunteers said, the donor was assured of having saved 14 minutes of his/her life.

“We collected around 500 cigarettes and a good number of sachets. Many people who donated told our volunteers that they were trying to give up the habit, but had no clue where to go for help,” according to T.S.Selvavinayagam, health officer and State Tobacco Control Officer, Directorate of Public Health. The cigarettes and other tobacco substances will be disposed of appropriately, he added.

The collection that volunteers made was displayed later that evening at a function organised by Cancer Institute. Union Health Minister Anbumani Ramadoss said consumption of tobacco, alcohol and junk food would affect the future of the youth of the country.

The 60 crore youngsters should be assets to the nation and not become burdensome because of their addiction to these substances.

A recent WHO study had shown that 14.1 per cent of school-going children in India smoke and 15.1 per cent of students not smoking currently will take up the habit the next year.

Again, 22 per cent of their teachers also smoke. Other studies had shown that smoking in films was a major factor in influencing children to get into the habit, the Minister said.

Dr.Anbumani distributed certificates to seven dental colleges who had come forward to be “smoke-free institutions.”

V.Shanta, chairman, Cancer Institute, said the WHO’s theme for this year’s No Tobacco Day was “Tobacco-free youth: Break the Tobacco Marketing Net.”

Tobacco users in the country were increasing annually by one per cent, she said, adding that tobacco had become the biggest cause of cancers. While the habit was coming down in affluent nations, as a result of education and awareness, in developing nations, it was actually going up, the Ramon Magsaysay winner said.

A study done in Perambalur district among 3 lakh women on tobacco-chewing indicated that the habit had significantly decreased in those who had studied up till 10th standard.

Tobacco-related cancers were the most avoidable, T.Rajkumar, director and scientific director, Cancer Institute, said. However, in India, there are at least four lakh deaths due to consumption of tobacco products.

Anna University had successfully implemented the smoke-free campus scheme in its affiliating institutions and efforts were on to rope in Madras University too, he added.

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