Dirty Tricks of the Puff Pirates kill 6 million and more

It is now a scientifically proven fact that the chain smoker’s ‘puff’ or the villager’s ‘chew’ of tobacco kills slowly but surely.

According to the WHO, tobacco kills nearly 6 million people each year, out of which around 600,000 are non-smokers exposed to second-hand smoke. The tobacco epidemic is spreading its tentacles, especially amongst the youth.

The Global Youth Tobacco Survey (GYTS) shows that over 25% of the young smokers of the world start smoking under the age of 10 years and that around 18.7% adolescents use tobacco in some form or the other. In India too, (as per GATS 2009-10) the average age of initiation of tobacco use is 17.9 years.


According to the WHO Report on the Global Tobacco Epidemic 2013, out of 1.2 billion Indians, 14.6% of youth (13 -15 years of age) use tobacco with 4.4% of them being cigarette smokers while 9% of the youth indulge in smokeless tobacco.

14% of adults currently smoke tobacco while 25.9% use smokeless forms of tobacco.

While the percentage of women using tobacco is lesser than that of men, this number has been on the increase in the last few decades, with 8.3% of girls in the age group 13-15 using tobacco currently. A much larger percentage – about 26.6% youth are exposed to second hand smoke in their homes.


The current direct costs of smoking is 1,195 million US dollars (about Rs. 750 crores), according to the 4th Edition of the Tobacco Atlas from the World Lung Foundation. This amount does not include the indirect costs due to loss of days of work, loss of days at school, out of pocket expenditure for medical management of lung and oral cancers, asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, hypertension, heart attacks, infertility and many other diseases known to be aggravated by smoking.

One of the main reasons for this alarming induction of the young to  tobacco is the unrelenting interference of tobacco industry giants. They leave no stone unturned in luring young people and introducing them to an unhealthy life of tobacco chewing and/or smoking.kid2

Youngsters unfortunately succumb to the devious tactics of the tobacco industry which falsely glamorises tobacco.

The ‘International Conference on Public Health Priorities in the 21st Century: The Endgame for Tobacco’, jointly organized by The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Public Health Foundation of India (PHFI) and Health Related Information Dissemination Amongst Youth (HRIDAY) was held recently in Delhi. The World Health Organization (WHO) was the technical co-sponsor of this event. The conference was attended by around 500 delegates from around 55 countries across the world.

Dr Margaret Chan, Director General of WHO, spoke about the menace of tobacco industry interference. She said “Industry is counting on the historical pattern, where economic and commercial interests trump public health concerns time and time again. Such tactics give tobacco endgames further appeal as a strategy for putting industry out of business. They deserve it.”

Supporting the views of Dr Chan, the President of PHFI, Dr K Srinath Reddy quipped, “Tobacco Industry cannot be tamed but needs to be timed out.”

Avni Sharma, a youth advocate from India, observed that tobacco kills young people at the peak of their productive age. Avani stressed upon the dire need for informed youth to become agents of social change and urged young people to thwart the tobacco giants by ushering a strong anti-tobacco movement for urgent control of the tobacco epidemic.

The Endgame Conference also launhed an anti-tobacco campaign – No more tobacco in the 21st Century– by Bollywood actress and activist Gul Panag. She,  with Member of Parliament, Baijayant ‘Jay’ Panda, (another staunch supporter of the tobacco control movement), urged the youth to wholeheartedly participate in the  cause to save themselves and others from the clutches of  tobacco. Gul said, “It is a much needed initiative in a youth dominated demography such as ours– especially when it is the youth who are targeted by the advertisers of tobacco products.”

Dileep G. Bal, District Health Officer of Kauai, Hawaii advised that youth should be made an integral component of all tobacco control activities. They are full of energy which just needs to be triggered in the right direction. The process has already started, with more and more of them participating actively in tobacco control activities.

Daouda Adam, Technical Advisor (Tobacco Control), International Union Against Tuberculosis and Lung Disease (The Union), Africa spoke of the interference of tobacco industry in health policy. In Burkina Faso the industry has tried to weaken tobacco control legislation going through parliament, by lobbying for counter and inefficient legislation via the Minister of Commerce. In Cote d’Ivoire and Madagascar the tobacco industry has been intimidating the governments and taking them to court with a view to stop smoke free legislation and adoption of graphic warnings. In Brazzaville, capital of Congo, the tobacco industry has tried to prevent good and efficient public information on packs by using vague and tiny warnings in small print, difficult to read. In Chad  the tobacco industry has influenced the government to keep prices of cigarettes low.

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Posted by on October 2, 2013. Filed under Breaking News,India. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

One Response to Dirty Tricks of the Puff Pirates kill 6 million and more

  1. Susan Hill

    October 2, 2013 at 7:33 am

    It’s a fact of life that nicotine cannot be crushed so easily unless the message sinks in really deep that smoking tobacco is a really unhealthy practice that leads to a very strong addiction.

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