This year on the occasion of ‘World No Tobacco Day’, i.e. May 31, a ‘cancer warrior’ would be meeting police personnel, Pune Mahanagar Parivahan Mahamandal Limited (PMPML) employees and staff across the schools in Pune, to spread awareness about the ill effects of tobacco consumption.
A ‘Cancer Warrior’ is private practitioners who offer free service in government hospitals in Maharashtra; they have been roped in for the programme. They are expected to spread awareness on anti-tobacco through lectures to adolescents who are a vulnerable group when it comes to the people affected by the health hazards of tobacco consumption.
Dr Suhasini Ghanekar, Tobacco Control Nodal Officer at Civil Hospital, Pune, said, “We have written to Pune police and Pune Parivahan Mahamandal Staff for the permissions to carry out awareness workshops on COTPA (Cigarette and Other Tobacco Products Act) as well health hazards of tobacco consumption. Apart from other government organisations a special effort would be made to make health department free of tobacco consuming staff.”
Ghanekar added, “We are also conducting a cancer screening tests in different government hospitals. Once the screening is done, the patients who have been tested positive will be checked by cancer warriors.”
Officers from the health department said that, there are many employees among the staff who consume tobacco even while they are on duty. When asked about this, Dr Ketaki Deshmukh, Non Communicable Diseases Cell, Nodal Officer, Pune District Civil Hospital, said, “We are conducting different workshops to sensitize the staff, but the regulation of the same becomes difficult. Only when the staff from the health department decides to stop consuming tobacco products, only then can the department be considered tobacco free.”
Dr Jaipal Reddy, MS MCH Surgical oncologist, who is one of the cancer warrior from Pune, said, “We work on preventive aspect. Through different workshops we explain potential causative factors leading to cancer. Through no tobacco day we would be engaging with different groups and would explain them the health hazards of tobacco consumption.”
Officers from the health department said, penalizing the highest possible number of people under Cigarette and Other Tobacco Products Act (COTPA); organising awareness workshops by cancer warriors for youngsters; and cancer screening tests is the way through which Pune district government health organisations will observe the National No Tobacco Day.
Under the COTPA, a fine up to Rs.200 can be imposed for smoking in public places selling tobacco products to minors or selling tobacco products within the radius of 100 metres from any educational institution.
Sanjay Jathar, Additional District Health Officer, (ADHO), said, “All the Primary Health Centres and Sub Centres have been informed to carry out awareness workshops in their units. Pictographically, they will be shown how severely tobacco consumption can affect health.”
The week will be celebrated under the National Non-Communicable Disease Programme and the guidelines for the same are given by the State Heath Service Directorate.