The Mumbai police force has seen an encouraging drop in consumption of tobacco from 75 per cent to 45 per cent in the last few years, stated a recent study done by Cancer Patients Aid Association (CPAA), an NGO.
Mumbai’s cops are always on the move. Their commitment to protect Mumbaikars remains undebatable. But, most policemen were addicted to chewing tobacco while on double duty to remain awake and kill hunger.
The addiction has been at such high level that many policemen were falling prey to it. However, the CPAA came to their rescue in 2015 when they launched “Tobacco-Free Mumbai Police Station’ on World No Tobacco Day.
The NGO worked closely with the Mumbai police for the last few years and consequentially, the consumption of tobacco has seen a drastic fall.
The programme was launched under the guidance of then Mumbai police commissioner Rakesh Maria.
“Credit goes to him (Rakesh Maria) as he had shown keen interest in anti-tobacco drive within the force, so that they live a stress-free life,” said Anita Peter, Executive Director, CPAA.
One of the major reasons for tobacco consumption in police force is occupational stress.
“Policemen are regularly exposed to stress beyond the range of normal human experience. A police force occupies an important position in the society as law enforcers. We are happy to see a dip in tobacco consumption in the force and we will strive to bring it down to zero consumption,” said Peter.
Initially, CPAA educated policemen in the city about harmful effects of consumption of tobacco in form of bidi, cigarette and gutka.
“We conducted oral tests and those who had initial symptoms of oral cancer were asked to consult a doctor. Many of them said they wanted to quit tobacco, but were unable to do so because of stress of long duty hours,” said Peter.
During these years, CPAA has screened 1,500 policemen posted with Marine Drive, Mata Ramabai Marg, Rafi Ahmed Kidwai, Sion Matunga, Worli, Dharavi, Malabar Hill, Nagpada, Byculla Jail and Mahim police stations.
Most of them said they picked up tobacco consumption habit from their colleagues.
“In the study, most policemen confessed that chewing tobacco helped them kill hunger and stay awake while on double duty,” added Peter.
Among the study of total chewing population, association between tobacco chewers and non-chewers with respect to development of pre-malignant lesions was substantial.
“A major link was found between consumption of tobacco and occurrence of cancer and precancerous lesions among policemen,” added Peter.
A periodic oral health examination and health promotion strategy to sensitise cops played a key role in refraining them from consuming tobacco and its related products.