Number of children getting addicted to tobacco is on rise in Maharashtra. Taking serious note of this grave scenario, Rashtrasant Tukadoji Maharaj Nagpur University (RTMNU) launched ‘Pledge for Life – Tobacco Free Youth’ campaign in collaboration with Sambandh Health Foundation (SHF) to protect youngsters from tobacco.
A workshop supported by Caring Friends & District Tobacco Control Cell, Nagpur was also held to mark the launch of campaign. While addressing the gathering, Dr Pranav Ingole, Maxillofacial & Oral Cancer Surgeon, VSPM Dental College & Research Centre, “The action plan would channelise the youth towards awareness about the ill-effects of tobacco while setting examples of staying tobacco free themselves.”
He further added that National Service Scheme (NSS) can contribute significantly in preventing the youth from tobacco usage, where 530 children initiate tobacco use everyday in Maharashtra. Unfortunately, more than 50% of oral cancer patients who undergo surgery do not survive beyond a year.
Teachers and students also took an anti-tobacco pledge that they will never touch tobacco in their lives and will encourage their family and friends not to do so. As per the 2017 Global Adult Tobacco Survey (GATS), 2.4 crore people use tobacco in Maharashtra. Mean initiation age of tobacco use is 17.4 years.
Speaking on the occasion, Vinayak Deshpande, Pro Vice Chancellor of RTMNU, said, “Protecting our future generations from tobacco is very crucial and youth must be actively participating in anti-tobacco activities. In RTM Nagpur University, we have 335 NSS Units with 26800 volunteers in the districts of Nagpur, Bhandara and Wardha. Starting from Nagpur where there are 206 Units and 16250 volunteers, we will also expand to colleges of other two districts. An evil which kills 72000 people every year in Maharashtra, we must work to rid it out of society. Anti-tobacco activities such as pledge for life, drawings etc will also bring about positive social behaviour change in youngsters.”
Professor Keshav Walke, NSS director, Rashtrasant Tukadoji Nagpur University, said, NSS program officers and student volunteers from 100 colleges attended the program. They were sensitized on the issue of tobacco and action plan was developed for all colleges of RTMN University. Starting from making their own colleges tobacco free, other anti-tobacco activities such as pledge taking, street plays, poster & debate competitions, etc were also planned.
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