Victims Declare India’s very own No Tobacco Day
On 11th February, 2011 Action Council Against Tobacco (ACT India), Healis-Sekhsaria Institute for Public Health, Salaam Bombay Foundation and Voluntary Health Association of India (VHAI), facilitated Voices of Tobacco Victims (VoTV) a program conceptualized by cancer victims who gathered together from across the country, to promote greater awareness about the harmful effects of smokeless tobacco use. These victims and their families shared their stories and experiences of trauma, pain and suffering as well as voiced their appeal for stronger enforcement of tobacco control laws. The victims and their families, while sharing their painful experiences appealed to the guests to “let not what has happened to us, happen to any more people.” All of them urged the government to take stringent actions against gutka and other forms of smokeless tobacco and expressed their solidarity in the fight to save others from the menace of gutka.
The event was well attended by policy makers, tobacco control advocates; cancer support groups, media and dignitaries like Shri Sriprakash Jaiswal, Union Coal Minister and Shri Dinesh Trivedi, State Minister, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare and Shri K.Desiraju, Addl. Secretary, Health and Family Welfare, Govt. of India. Other key participants were Dr. Pankaj Chaturvedi Associate Professor, Head and Neck Department Tata Memorial Hospital, Mumbai and Dr. Justice K. Narayana Kurup (Formerly Judge, High Court of Kerala and Ag. Chief Justice, High Court of Madras).
Dr Chaturvedi suggested the need for a dedicated day, just like World No Tobacco Day on 31st May, when Indians can raise their voice against Gutka/Pan Masala. Buoyed by Dr Chaturvedi’s suggestion, the patients decided to declare 11th February as India’s No Tobacco Day. This declaration was supported by none other than Sri Prakash Jaiswal who announced to host next No Tobacco Day in Kanpur. He invited the group to organize a similar event in his home town of Kanpur and offered to take a personal interest in ensuring Kanpur Gutkha Free from that date onwards. The decision was supported by Shri Dinesh Trivedi , Minister of Health for State and Shri K. Desiraju, Additional Secretary, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare. The media reported this declaration widely. Visit the link to read the media coverage