A half-day symposium ‘Tobacco Free Society’, to sensitise students about the harms of smoking and chewing tobacco, was held at Amity University on Thursday. Politicians, medical experts, activists, cancer survivors and teachers took part in the event.
Member of Parliament and former union minister for health and family welfare Dinesh Trivedi urged students not to give into peer pressure and instead, choose a healthy way of living.
“False notions of coolness and machismo have been associated with cigarettes in popular entertainment modes. Confidence comes from the way you carry yourself and not from the brand of cigarette you smoke. I am aware that many college students smoke cigarettes and I request them to choose a healthy lifestyle instead of a cancerous hobby,” Trivedi said.
He said the key to quitting smoking lies in mental strength. “The high that you seek from tobacco will eventually bring you down one day. It is important to stay mentally strong so that once you decide to quit, you don’t succumb to the nicotine addiction. Don’t let tobacco control your mind,” Trivedi said.
Medical experts also cautioned students against tobacco use. “At least 42% of the cancer deaths in India are due to tobacco use and every year, billions of rupees are spent on treatment. As a practitioner, I see the menace of tobacco every day while treating patients. Tobacco not only affects the consumer but their family as well. By merely avoiding this product, at least 13 lakh persons can be saved every year in India,” Dr Vedant Kabra, director of Fortis Memorial Research Institute, Gurgaon, said.
A cancer survivor and his wife also shared their experiences. “I am Anil Kumar (44) and I started chewing tobacco when I was in class 10 due to peer pressure. Three years ago, I was diagnosed with mouth cancer and my life turned upside down. The treatment process was extremely excruciating,” Kumar said.
Babita Devi, Kumar’s wife, said, “Our spirits broke when we came to know about his cancer. He was the sole bread earner of the family and due to his treatment, our son had to quit his studies.”