Among many social habits, tobacco use is not considered ‘unsafe’ in the Naga society. The fact that it is commonly used as a mouth freshener, and often shared among the family members and friends, without any reluctance or reservation, indicates the low level of awareness about the danger of second hand smoke.
An estimated 1.3 billion people worldwide use tobacco products, 80% of whom are in low- and middle-income countries, reports the World Health Organisation (WHO). Tobacco use contributes to spending behaviour of the users but its detrimental effect on health is a greater concern. WHO states that nicotine contained in tobacco is highly addictive and tobacco use is a major risk factor for cardiovascular and respiratory diseases, over 20 different types or subtypes of cancer, and many other debilitating health conditions. It is alarming to note that every year, more than 8 million people die from tobacco use.
In India, tobacco use is ‘one of the major causes of death and disease in India and accounts for nearly 1.35 million deaths every year.’ The country is the second largest consumer and producer of tobacco. In Nagaland, 43.3% of adults either smoke tobacco or use smokeless tobacco as per Global Adult Tobacco Survey (GATS-2), against a National average of 29%. Global Youth Tobacco Survey (GYTS-4) shows that 43% among the age group of 13-15 years of school going children use Tobacco, ranking 2nd highest in the country.
The State Tobacco Control Cell, National Tobacco Control Programme (NTCP) has taken a new initiative to take anti-tobacco campaign from Tobacco Free Schools to Tobacco Free Homes in Nagaland. To start with, the Tobacco Free School to Tobacco Free Home Campaign was held at Little Flower Higher Secondary School, Kohima on April 14, 2023. The Commissioner & Secretary, Health & Family Welfare, Nagaland claimed Tobacco Free Home Campaign is ‘the first in the country and the world.’
Introducing the objectives of Tobacco Free Home Campaign, the State Nodal Officer for NTCP in Nagaland cites, when the students are motivated and given incharge of creating anti-tobacco awareness in their homes there is huge potential to take this campaign to thousands of homes. When awareness is created in every such home it will also bring about huge impact on the overall behaviour of the citizens. Under this pilot project, the intent is to empower the students who themselves will give awareness to their parents about the danger of smoking, second hand smoke, chewing of tobacco and indiscriminate spitting.
The state mechanism has laid down the requirement that in order to be eligible for Tobacco Free Home badge, a simple checklist is given to the intending students which need to be first complied with. When they are ready, Tobacco Free Home pledge is signed by the head of the family. Students of such homes will enforce the Tobacco Free Home norms in their respective homes.
Though Tobacco Free Home is a new concept, the hope is ‘once properly implemented this initiative will create good awareness about the danger of tobacco use, reduce the frequency of smoking and smokeless tobacco use, reduce exposure to second hand smoke, improve cleanliness and compliance of tobacco control laws in short term.’
Comments can be sent to [email protected]