Tobacco Use Alarming

Kashmir Magazine

It is an admitted fact that smoking and tobacco use causes cancer, heart disease, stroke, lung disorder, diabetes and other chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, which include emphysema and chronic bronchitis. It also increases risk for tuberculosis, certain eye disease, and problems of the immune system, including rheumatoid arthritis.
Among all States and UT’s Jammu and Kashmir is the sixth in number to have a high prevalence of tobacco use as over 20 percent of the population is indulging in its consumption. As per the National Health Survey, J&K is sixth in the country after North Eastern States like Manipur, Arunachal Pradesh, Tripura, Meghalaya and Mizoram, in terms of tobacco use.
Health experts believe that tobacco can be controlled by firm awareness against its use and implementation of COTPA and ToFEI in and around educational institutions. They believe that there is a need for enforcement. Undoubtedly tobacco is putting a huge economic burden on people and it has health hazards associated. Though the prevalence of smoking has decreased, we have seen over the years that the school children have also become habitual of smoking.
As per the figures of NTCP more than 19,877 challans were conducted in Jammu and Kashmir in the past four years. As per official data around 75 percent of cigarettes sale is being sold through loose cigarettes in India and every gazetted officer, according to the COTPA, is authorized to challan the person found smoking in a public place.
In 2021, a survey conducted by the Union Health Ministry which had revealed that Kashmir spends a whopping Rs 600 cr on the purchase of tobacco products annually with Srinagar, Anantnag and Baramulla districts topping the numbers.
Jammu and Kashmir is among the states with a huge number of tobacco consumers due to poor enforcement of COTPA. Health officials said the lack of exclusive manpower in districts is a major challenge for the health department in terms of enforcement.
Tobacco use is associated with accelerated mortality among adults, especially in low- and middle-income countries, where the burden of tobacco-related illness and death is heaviest. Besides awareness drives, there is a stringent need to enforce strict laws so that new generation will be saved from this menace.