Tobacco pictorial warnings ineffective

While shifting the focus on ‘smokeless tobacco’, the Centre on Monday said that it would now work on improving the pictorial warnings to curb the use of tobacco.

The Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, which focused the most of the anti-tobacco campaign on the issue of smoking, for the first time, admitted that pictorial warnings were not so effective.

Additional Secretary in the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare Keshav Desiraju said that people did not understand the message of caution. “We have had feedback that people don’t understand pictorial warnings on tobacco. If there is a picture of lungs X-ray, some people are not able to understand. In some cases, picture is not clear. Again scorpion is a sign of poison, but some are not able to understand,” he said.

The present pictorial warnings on tobacco packs feature lungs X-ray, a cross section of lungs with related cancer, and a scorpion. Desiraju said “Many of the buyers in urban areas understand the meaning of the symbols but they still buy. Ultimately, it’s the people who will have to understand that it’s bad for them.”

Union Health Ministry would not concentrate on measures for curbing the smokeless tobacco in the form of chewing tobacco, gutka and pan masala. Desiraju said that the Ministry would soon consult the states on the ways and means to curb use of smokeless tobacco. According to ICMR, 50 percent of cancer cases among men and 25 percent among women in India are related to tobacco use. Nearly 90 percent of oral cancer cases are related to use of chewing tobacco.

States with high prevalence of smokeless tobacco also face the challenge of high burden of oral cancer. Besides oral cancer, smokeless tobacco use is also associated with cancers of food pipe, pancreas, kidney throat and stomach.

source: expressbuzz.com

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