World Anti- Tobacco Day Observed – Mumbai

World Anti-Tobacco Day (31st May 2011) was observed with great fervor at IMC with over 300 people attending the event. The IMC & its Ladies’ Wing, Salaam Bombay
Foundation, and Bajaj Electricals joined hands with Paryavaran Mitra to share a common platform of Anti-Tobacco.

It may be recalled that last year, the day was observed with Salaam Bombay Foundation when CMD Shekhar Bajaj had given a call to the employees of Bajaj Electricals to join the movement of not only quitting the use of tobacco but also persuade others to do so. The initiative gathered momentum under the project “Kick-off the Tobacco Dragon”. In the last one year, of the 153 tobacco users in the Company, 130 have given up tobacco usage completely.

This year, Dr. Pankaj Chaturvedi of Tata Memorial Hospital was the Chief Guest on the occasion. Welcoming the guests, Niranjan Hiranandani, Vice President-elect of the IMC emphasised the need to ban tobacco in India. He was critical of the government, which is slow to the ban since it would mean a loss of revenues generated from the taxes on producing and selling tobacco. But if we consider the cost of Hospitals and the social cost to the society and more importantly, the aftermath to the patient’s family, this revenue would not seem to be worth its while. If tobacco cultivation is banned, farmers can grow alternate crops for their livelihood and thus the revenue loss to the Government could be minimized.

Keynote address by Dr. Pankaj Chaturvedi of
TATA Memorial Hospital :
Dr. Pankaj Chaturvedi, in an impactful keynote speech presented a panoramic view of the financial, social, psychological and health related problems of tobacco consumption. He said that a personal visit to his hospital would convince the public of horrific results of smoking and tobacco chewing. He observed that, unlike consumption of liquor in moderation which is not harmful, consuming tobacco is harmful from the very first cigarette and so is chewing of tobacco. It not only harms the individual but their families, neighbourhood and environment including others (passive smokers). Also, tobacco is addictive, therefore one should not begin consuming tobacco in any form. He made an
interesting comment that tobacco is the only consumer product which carries a warning of dreadful consequences on the pack yet people pay and buy the
product.

Presentation by Salaam Bombay Foundation :
Aditi Parekh speaking on behalf of Salaam Bombay Foundation said that their mission is to eliminate the threat of tobacco consumption among children by empowering them to become confident adults to lead tomorrow’s India. They have been working with over 5 lakh children aged between 10 – 17 years belonging to the weaker sections of society. They have been active in Municipal schools and Government aided schools in Mumbai and their outreach programs have reached a couple of districts of rural Maharashtra to target children and young adults.

Address by Kiran Bajaj – President, Paryavaran Mitra :
“Paryavaran Mitra” is an NGO started in 2004. Its main objective is to
prevent various types of pollution (sound, air,land and water) so that we offer a better world to live in to our present and future generations. Kiran Bajaj has been working passionately and aggressively to promote the movement. In a thought- provoking speech, she informed the audience about a silent protest that was being carried out in Shikohabad, on that very day, by students . Besides, leading intellectuals and businessmen of the city have gathered and signed a petition to ban tobacco which will be submitted to the U.P. Chief Minister Mayawatiji. She cited real life instances proving that tobacco use not
only kills the victim but also destroys their family. She urged the audience to take this anti-tobacco movement further in any form and do whatever they can for the society to abolish this tobacco dragon. She mentioned that the New Zealand Government has decided that from 1st July 2011, cigarettes will be banned and will be considered like any other contraband. If the New Zealand Government, in spite of having advanced medical facilities to treat smokers, are moving ahead to ban cigarettes, then surely Corporate India through their own contacts and Associations like CII, ASSOCHAM, FICCI, IMC can put enough pressure on the Indian Government to ban tobacco in India too. Not only will it benefit all… since India will grow to be a healthy nation, but also, families and friends will see this as a great service, both mentally and financially. The whole proceedings of the event created an atmosphere of participation and a resolve among participants to carry forward the movement and spread the message of ‘No Tobacco’ at home, at the work place
and among the general public.

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