Civic students join fight against smoking | mumbai | Hindustan Times
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Civic students join fight against smoking

Thirteen-year-old Kalpesh Kank spent his childhood passively inhaling cigarette smoke. But two weeks ago, thanks to a little anti-tobacco play put up by Kank and his friends, his father finally decided to kick the butt.

mumbai Updated: Feb 05, 2010 01:06 IST
Aarefa Johari

Thirteen-year-old Kalpesh Kank spent his childhood passively inhaling cigarette smoke. But two weeks ago, thanks to a little anti-tobacco play put up by Kank and his friends, his father finally decided to kick the butt.

The play, propounding the slogan ‘Tobacco matlab khallas’ (tobacco means the end), was one of the entries for Salaam Bombay Foundation’s ‘Art Against Tobacco’ programme for World Cancer Day, on Thursday.

The event, held at Sion’s Shanmukhananda Auditorium, had students from 147 municipal schools in the city participate in poster making, singing and drama competitions on the anti-tobacco theme.

“On seeing our rehearsal, even some of my neighbours vowed to give up smoking,” said Kank, a student of Mohite Patil municipal school in Mankhurd.

Salaam Bombay, a non-profit organisation working for a tobacco-free world, started intervention programmes in two government schools in 2002. Today, they reach out to 55,000 students in Mumbai and at least 25 lakh in the state, using art, music, theatre and sports to help children fight and prevent tobacco addiction.

“We believe that if you engage children productively and consistently at the right age, the message will get embedded in their minds,’ said Devika Chadha, a programme director at the Foundation.

To appeal to children coming from lower economic backgrounds, they rely on popular slogans, jingles and celebrity ambassadors such as singer Shaan.

“A billion people may die of tobacco by 2030,” said Seema Sood, chief organising officer of Salaam Bombay, citing surveys by the World Health Organisation.

“It is thus important to work with young children, because they are far more receptive than adults.”