Delhi’s Tobacco Death Toll – 19000 Per Annum: A Priority for NSS

New Delhi: National Service Scheme (NSS) has launched the ‘Pledge for Life-Tobacco Free Youth’ campaign to address huge public health issues caused by tobacco consumption. This was launched this Friday at the University conference  Centre, Delhi University by N. Raja, Director, Ministry of Youth Affairsand Sports.

A workshop was organized by NSS Program Coordinator Dr. Parminder Sehgal, University of Delhi for NSS Program Officers and Volunteers to orient them on the issue of tobacco usage. Technical support for the workshop was given by Sambandh Health Foundation (SHF).

During the workshop, the Voice of Tobacco Victims (VoTV) patron Dr Vedant Kabra, Director, Cancer Care, Manipal Hospitals Dwarka informed the audience about disastrous impact of tobacco use. he shared that they get so many young patients in their OPDs diagnosed with oral cancers due to tobacco. Some cancer survivors and their families also narrated the trauma and suffering which they had to undergo due to tobacco-induced disease. The NSS participants were disturbed by the plight of the families and disruption to their lives. He further added that tobacco usage causes 90% of oral/lung cancers which leads to fatalities, major loss of quality of life, trauma and financial ruin for the family. Unfortunately more than 50% of oral cancer victims who undergo surgery do not survive more than one year. Prevention is better than cure – NSS can contribute significantly in preventing the youth from tobacco addiction.”

N. Raja, Director, NSS from Ministry of Youth Affairs said, “Protecting our future generations from tobacco is very crucial if we want them to be healthy and happy. NSS volunteers across the country work for the nation. There are around 37 lac volunteers who work on social issues such as health, sanitation, disaster management etc. These will play a positive role in bringing behaviour change by refraining themselves from using tobacco and motivating others not to do so.”

In the workshop, all the participants took a pledge that they will never touch tobacco and will encourage family, friends and others not to do so either. In addition, they have developed an action plan under the Pledge For Life campaign for the year 2019-20, which will see students, NSS Volunteers conducting anti-tobacco activities such as pledge against tobacco, special camps, debate/essay competitions, street plays etc.

Arvind Mathur, Trustee, Sambandh Health Foundation said, “It is a great initiative by the NSS for a social cause of protecting our young generations from addictions. University of Delhi has a total of 63 Units with around 7500 volunteers. Energy of these volunteers will definitely reduce the number of deaths caused due to tobacco, which is the single most preventable cause of death known, worldwide.”

According to Global Adult Tobacco Survey (2017) more than 25 lac (17.8%) people in Delhi use tobacco in form of smoking and chewing, while more than 19,000 tobacco users die annually due to diseases attributed to tobacco. The report states 81 children are introduced to tobacco every day in Delhi.