Bhubaneswar: In a bid to have dialogue on various strategies with focus on strengthening the national and state policies, and building a conducive environment for reduction in tobacco consumption and improve the public health situation, Coalition for Tobacco Free Odisha, an alliance of civil society organizations & concern citizens organized a state level Consultation program – ‘Improving public health by strengthening COTPA and Tobacco Control Policies’ where parliamentarians urged the Governments at Centre and State to take focus action on controlling tobacco consumption in the country and state.
The panel was chaired by Rajya Sabha MPs including Prasant Nanda, Mizibulla Khan, Sujeet Kumar through Video conferencing.
Prafulla Kumar Mohanty, VC of Khalikote University, Ranjit Kumar Singh, Advocate Supreme Court, Krupasindhu Panda, Oncologist, HCG Panda Cancer Hospital and Minakshi Panda, Educationist & Ranjan Kumar Mohanty ,Secretary PECUC.
Prasant Nanda, MP of Rajya Sabha said, “With introduction of digital platforms, the exposure to display of Tobacco has increased. There is no limit to the display of such harmful products, be it cigarette, tobacco or alcohol. The OTT platforms specifically are the major platforms to publicize tobacco as there is no censor to it. I urge the policy makers to come up with laws to prohibit the visualization of tobacco in these mediums as there is no limit to the audience of these platforms”
Muzibulla Khan, MP of Rajya Sabha, said’ “Tobacco and cigarette are very hazardous to health. Children these days are seen consuming tobacco as it is easy available. They are the future of our nation and protecting them from such hazard is protecting the future. We need to ensure that the children are away from this. I myself have never consumed tobacco as I understand the consequences of it. For people of Odisha, I will definitely bring this issue in parliament along with other parliamentarians and do my best to strengthen the tobacco control policies”
Sujeet Kumar, MP, Rajya Sabha, said “I am glad to be a part of the ambitious drive to make Odisha Tobacco Free. I will definitely do my duty as a parliamentarian.” “We need to ensure proper sensitization on damage due to tobacco in schools, colleges and public places and also the law enforcing agencies needs to be sensitized so as to enforce the laws effectively. He said, the consultation process will go a long way to achieve the goal. He appealed all the stakeholders including Panchayat Raj Institution get involved in this public health issue and make Odisha tobacco free. “
Dr. Krupasindhu Panda, Oncologist, HCG Panda Cancer Hospital said, “Death is must but we should not die an unnatural death of our own hands. There are 4Cs causing unnatural deaths, which are cardiac arrest, casualty, corona and cancer. With tobacco consumption, oral cancer has now become the mostly occurred cancers diagnosed among people.”
Dr.Panda said “The health issues caused by tobacco are preterm births, intrauterine growth retardation, prenatal mortality, respiratory illness, neuro behavioral problem, childhood disorder, cancer, depression etc” he further added. He also suggested remedies on getting rid of tobacco consumption like awareness, ban of tobacco in workplace, tobacco policies for laborers, new strategies and development in existing policies.
Ranjit Singh, Advocate, Supreme Court, said, “The Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products Act (COTPA) that was regulated in 2003 has some gaps that need to be bridged. The points that needs to be focused are there is a lack of strict enforcement of the law; although there is prohibition for smoking in public places but smoking in airports, restaurants again has led to the exposure of tobacco; tobacco is also now available easily in shops which are reachable to children; also the law for surrogate advertisement needs to be strengthened”.
Anuradha Mohanty, Executive Director PECUC moderated the consultation.
Cancer survivors, Paramanada Dalei, Danei Karan and Gagan Sahoo also shared their experience on how they survived and defeated the tobacco caused cancer. The Program was further attended by organization from across the state working on Tobacco control.