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Nagaland: Slight drop in tobacco consumption rate

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By Thejoto Nienu Updated: May 30, 2021 10:45 pm
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Our Correspondent
Kohima, May 30 (EMN):
The (present) prevalence rate of tobacco consumption in Nagaland stands at 43% and this has been credited to ‘ignorance and high social acceptability’ in the Naga society, according to a senior Health official.

In an interview with Eastern Mirror on the eve of World No Tobacco Day, Joint Director of Health and Family Welfare and State Nodal Officer (SNO) for National Tobacco Control Programme (NTCP), Dr. C Tetseo shared that “there is a little drop in the rate of tobacco consumption especially smoking but as far as chewing is concerned, it may not be significant”.

Every year, World No Tobacco Day is observed on May 31 to raise awareness among people regarding the harmful effects of tobacco on health. The theme for this year’s event is, “Commit to Quit”, a campaign encouraging people to quit tobacco for a healthier life, which is a global movement under World Health Organisation (WHO).

Tetseo stated that the national average of tobacco use was 29%, whereas the state (Nagaland) rate was 43%. He maintained that the present prevalence rate in Nagaland is 46% in men and 31.5% among 15 years and above; he also pointed out that Nagaland has the closest gender gap as far as tobacco use is concerned.

According to the official, tobacco related diseases were increasing because of the cumulative effects of tobacco use over many years.

“Likewise, if there are positive changes, we will see it over a period of years in future and not immediately”, he added.

Tetseo reiterated that there is an increase in tobacco related ailments in the society causing major risk factors for non-communicable diseases such as cancer, cardiovascular diseases, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and diabetes, besides affecting reproductive system and other vital organs.

He pointed out that tobacco use causes a huge disease burden globally, and asserted there were more than 10 million preventable deaths that occur every year and also loss of productivity.

“It is not only diseases and deaths but it inflicts a huge economic burden on vulnerable sections due to medical cost, cost of tobacco products coupled with decreased productivity. People in our state are also affected in the same way,” said Tetseo.

In this regard, the nodal officer maintained that in order to help people quit tobacco during the pandemic, that government has strengthened focus groups discussions (FGD) with tobacco users in all NTCP districts along with many information, education and communication (IEC) activities and radio jingles on the dangers of tobacco habits in transmission of Covid-19, apart from many awareness activities in all the districts.

Smoking does not reduce chances of contracting Covid-19

Meanwhile, the official rubbished reports claiming that smoking reduces chances of getting Covid-19. “The claims that smoking may reduce Covid-19 infection come mostly from researchers who have conflict of interest with tobacco industry and most of these papers are not peer reviewed.”

He pointed that ‘a recent article on the subject purportedly from the prestigious Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) was debunked by the Institute itself’.

Another study published in French respiratory journal in July 2020 stating that smokers are less vulnerable to Covid-19 was taken down and retracted as two authors were found to have conflict of interest with the tobacco industry. One researcher was providing consultancy to a tobacco firm and another one was receiving funding from the foundation of Smoke Free World, which is funded by the tobacco industry. But at the end of the day, we have to rely on what the World Health Organisation (WHO) says, he added.

Further he said, “WHO stated that smokers run the risk of developing severe complications when infected with Covid-19 and the reason is self-explanatory. When the lung is damaged or when the immunity is low the virus will take advantage and smoking exactly does that to the user”.

Meanwhile, Tetseo conveyed that tobacco use is bad for all seasons but it is worse during Covid-19 pandemic and asserted that careless chewing and spitting in public places and homes could also be driving the transmission. “This is the best time to quit and for a good reason”, he added.

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By Thejoto Nienu Updated: May 30, 2021 10:45:09 pm