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India – Tobacco on Impoverished Soil (26 May 2004)

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Statistics of the World Health Organization reveal that 30% of male and 3% of female in India are cigarette smokers. These figures can never reflect the whole truth because Indians like most to use “ smokeless tobacco ” and locally made “ Bidis ” .Surveys conducted in community estimate that over 60% of male and 30% of female are consumers of tobacco. India has 800-thousand new cases of cancer per year, with oral cancer accounting for 3.5%, that is 350-thousand cases, a figure that is the highest in this world because of the widespread use of tobacco.The Indian community still does not accept female smokers. However, women in the lower strata of society fancy using tobacco. Some badly-off women and village women even use cooked tobacco to clean their teeth because they believe tobacco has a bleaching power, which is far from the truth. Tobacco is generally welcomed in the lower strata of society and people like to give it as a treat to their guests.India has a population of 1.3 billion. It is estimated that 5 million children are addicted to tobacco. The situation is worrying. 80% of street children are tobacco consumers and they believe tobacco can allay hunger. Poverty is certainly the cause of the widespread use of tobacco there. People fighting against tobacco must at the same time help solve other social problems such as poverty, hygiene, housing, economy and illiteracy as India is closely tied to these problems.In this impoverished soil, anti-tobacco organizations are consolidating their efforts in the community. Their first step is to make the public acknowledge that tobacco is a social problem in India. The second step is to make a concerted effort to stop the penetration of tobacco traders. Recently, a legislation to ban the manufacture and sale of Gutkha (a kind of smokeless tobacco) in Province Mahara has proven to be a big step forward in the anti-tobacco movement.

Program: 
Smoke Free Planet
Publish Date: 
Wednesday, May 26, 2004
Station: 
RTHK
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