India Sitting on a Tobacco Epidemic

A new study conducted by the Centre for Global Health Research at the University of Toronto found that India is poised to lose around 10 lakh people in the next two years because of smoking in India alone.

Several major policy implications may be in order, including a ban of smoking in public places, an increase in tax on tobacco products (including bidis), and the use of pictorial warnings to reach out illiterate populations.

The India Together article titled “India sitting on tobacco epidemic” further highlights this issue. There is clearly a need for intervention, although in the article, the WHO claims that:

few countries have the infrastructure that will enable them to implement the comprehensive measures needed to create a significant reduction in tobacco use. Some of these measures are: well-designed public health messages, celebrity-driven awareness campaigns, sustained nicotine replacement therapies, screening students for tobacco use and providing counseling, and setting up more rehabilitation centers for those wanting to quit.

This will require the country to set up creative and widespread institutional structures to address what is a pressing public health challenge.

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