WHO-recommended steps against tobacco epidemic stressed

In the 20th century, the tobacco epidemic killed 100 million people worldwide. During the 21st century, it could kill one billion, says the World Health Organisation (WHO), which has come up with a six-policy package to counter the tobacco epidemic and reduce its deadly toll. In view of the global tobacco epidemic and the warning issued by WHO, organisations working for the improvement of public health have decided to pressurise the Government to make pictorial warnings mandatory on cigarette packets and other related products. The delay on the part of the union Government to introduce pictorial warnings came in for sharp attack from the Voluntary Health Association of Assam on Sunday. The members of the association while taking the Government to task said the tobacco epidemic has emerged deadlier than HIV/AIDS, as it can kill in many ways. Dr Gautam Borgohain, medical officer of the association, said the cure for the devastating tobacco epidemic was not dependent on medicines or vaccines, but on the concerted actions of the Government and the civil society. "Tobacco use can kill in so many ways that it is a risk factor for six to eight leading causes of death in the world,' said Dr Borgohain. On the other hand, Ruchira Neog, executive secretary of the association said tobacco was the only legal consumer product that harms everyone exposed to it and kills up to half of those who use it. "Though tobacco is the single most preventable cause of death in the world today, its use is wide spread due to low price, lack of awareness about its dangers and aggressive marketing,' said Ruchira stressing the need for applying the WHO recommended measures to control tobacco epidemic. The WHO recommends six policies to reverse the tobacco epidemic. These are