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Odishatv Bureau

New Delhi: Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan on the World Tobacco Day on Sunday said the battle against tobacco was a personal fight for him and he wanted a total ban on it and its products.

"The battle against tobacco is a personal fight for me. As an ENT surgeon, I've been the first-hand witness to how it destroys not just the user, but the entire family. I am a votary for a complete ban on tobacco and its products on the World No Tobacco Day to nip the evil in the bud," he tweeted.

According to the World Health Organisation, every year the tobacco industry spends over $9 billion to advertise its products. Increasingly, it's targeting youth with nicotine and tobacco products to replace the 8 million people that its products kill every year.

This year's World No Tobacco Day campaign focuses on protecting children and young people from exploitation by the tobacco and related industry.

The WHO said even during the global pandemic, the tobacco and nicotine industry persisted by pushing products that limited people's ability to fight coronavirus and recover from the disease.

The industry offered free branded masks and doorstep delivery during quarantine and lobbied for their products to be listed as 'essential'. Over 40 million young people, aged 13-15 years, had started to use tobacco, it added.

Meanwhile, a preventive healthcare company reported that tobacco consumption behaviour has changed amid the enforced lockdown. As the world has changed following the coronavirus pandemic, so has the tobacco consumption behaviour. It is interesting to know, especially on World No-Tobacco Day on Sunday, that 37 per cent of people in India considered lockdown as an opportunity to quit smoking.

In a survey conducted by Indus Health Plus, a preventive healthcare company headquartered in Pune, it was found that 37 per cent of the respondents mentioned that lockdown is a good opportunity to quit smoking, while 42 per cent said that it helped them to reduce consumption.

It was a three-week consumer survey to understand the smoking behaviour and patterns of the people during the lockdown. Out of the total respondents, 39 per cent were females and 61 per cent males between the age group of 30-45 years. The sample size of the survey was 837 and the time-frame was May 8 to May 29.

The respondents of the survey were from metros along with tier-II cities of Maharashtra, Karnataka and Madhya Pradesh.

The survey revealed that 68 per cent of smokers reduced consumption due to increased cost of cigarettes by the retailers and shopkeepers. Also, smokers found cigarettes unavailable. While 39 per cent of males and 25 per cent of females succeeded in reducing tobacco consumption in any form. However, the survey also revealed that 32 per cent of smokers increased smoking due to the stress of managing work from home and household chores, social distancing, and for a few people, it was due to free time.

(IANS)

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