Union Health Secretary reiterates India’s commitment to safeguarding current and future generations from the significant health, social, environmental, and economic harms associated with tobacco on World No Tobacco Day 2024

“Protecting Children from Tobacco Industry Interference” – the theme of the “World No Tobacco Day” 2024

Union Health Secretary announces key focus areas for tobacco control initiatives in 2024, including strict enforcement of India’s National Tobacco Control Law – COTPA 2003

Indian badminton maestro, Ms PV Sindhu, announced as brand ambassador for Tobacco Control

Operational guidelines for establishing Tobacco Cessation Centres in medical institutions unveiled

India is the first country globally to regulate anti-tobacco warnings on streaming or OTT media platforms

The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Government of India, organized an event today to observe World No Tobacco Day 2024. This year’s theme, “Protecting Children from Tobacco Industry Interference,” underscores the urgent need to shield youth from the detrimental influences of tobacco consumption. Union Health Secretary Shri Apurva Chandra addressed the event through a video message, focusing on the devastating impact of tobacco use. He emphasized the Government’s  proactive stance, implementing measures across various levels—local, national, regional, and global—to significantly reduce tobacco prevalence and exposure to tobacco smoke, thereby fostering healthier communities. The message can be viewed here:

Speaking on the occasion, he reiterated India’s unwavering commitment to safeguarding current and future generations from the major health, social, environmental, and economic harms associated with tobacco use. He highlighted how India’s stringent enforcement of the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control has yielded noticeable results, citing tangible outcomes evidenced by the tobacco surveillance and monitoring mechanisms in place.

Furthermore, he unveiled the key focus areas for tobacco control initiatives in 2024, which include strict enforcement of India’s National Tobacco Control Law – COTPA 2003, intensified public awareness campaigns, increasing tobacco-free educational institutions, and establishing tobacco-free villages nationwide.

To motivate young children and youth to steer clear of tobacco in all forms, Indian badminton maestro Ms. PV Sindhu was designated as the brand ambassador for Tobacco Control today. In a compelling video message, Ms. Sindhu urged everyone to unite in the campaign against tobacco use, encouraging individuals to lead a tobacco-free life and embrace healthier choices today for a better tomorrow. Her message can be accessed here:

Smt. V. Hekali Zhimomi, Additional Secretary of the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare, stated that in 2023, the Government of India extended the TV and Film rules to OTT platforms on the official gazette and is the first country globally to regulate anti-tobacco warnings on streaming or OTT media platforms.

Prof. Dr. Atul Goel, Director General of Health Services, emphasized the urgent need for innovative strategies to educate youth about the harmful effects of tobacco use from an early age. He highlighted the importance of curbing tobacco advertising and engaging more influencers to spread awareness. Dr. Goel called for individual participation in raising awareness and urged a thorough examination of all health concerns associated with tobacco consumption.

Dr. Roderico Ofrin, WHO Representative to India, commended India’s leadership in tobacco control, highlighting its pioneering role in regulating tobacco depiction on OTT platforms and its policy on the prohibition of e-cigarettes. He urged for collective efforts to protect future generations from the adverse effects of tobacco consumption by raising public awareness and safeguarding tobacco control policies from industry influences.

Operational Guidelines for Establishing Tobacco Cessation Centres in Medical Institutions was also unveiled. The initiative aims to educate and sensitize medical students about tobacco cessation, aligning with the guidelines set by the National Medical Commission to train graduates in holistic medicine. By offering these cessation services, medical institutions aim to substantially boost quit rates among tobacco users, thereby fortifying the overall healthcare system. The integration of tobacco cessation clinics into medical and other healthcare institutions will contribute to the universalization of cessation services and strengthen the health system as a whole.

During the event, awardees of the WHO World No Tobacco Day 2024 Award were felicitated. The WHO WNTD Award for 2024 was presented to the State Tobacco Control Cell, Odisha and the Regional Director’s Special Recognition Award for 2024 was presented to Dr. Mir Mushtaq Ahmad, Nodal Officer Kashmir, National Tobacco Control Program and the Generation Saviour Association, Punjab. The awards are given annually by WHO on a nomination basis to individuals or organizations for their accomplishments in tobacco control.

The Ministry of Health & Family Welfare has enabled an online “No Tobacco Pledge” through the MyGov platform. States, Union Territories, and all stakeholders have been encouraged to disseminate the pledge widely and encourage maximum participation in the No Tobacco Pledge campaign starting from May 31. All the participants, including the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare, State Government officers, and partner organizations, took a “No Tobacco Pledge”.

Link for No Tobacco Pledge: https://pledge.mygov.in/no-tobacco-2024/

Under the National Oral Health Programme, an oral screening and tobacco cessation camp was also organized at Nirman Bhawan by the National Resource Centre for Oral Potentially Malignant Disorder (OPMD Hub) of the Lady Hardinge Medical College.

Dr. L. Swasticharan, Addl. DDG, Dte. GHS, Dr. Poonam Meena, Deputy Secretary (Tobacco Control), Ministry of Health & Family Welfare, and other senior officers of the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare were present on the occasion.

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