India’s Health Minister gets WHO’s special recognition for tobacco control

World No-Tobacco-Day will be observed on May 31 . On this day people are encouraged to observe abstinence of 24 hours from all forms of tobacco consumption. Every year, WHO recognizes individuals or organizations in each of the six WHO Regions for their accomplishments in the area of tobacco control.

This year Union Health Minister Jagat Prakash Nadda is chosen for WHO Director-General Special Recognition Awards for accelerating India’s tobacco control initiatives and taking bold measures to protect people against hazards of tobacco use.

According to a WHO report, action to stamp out tobacco use can help countries prevent millions of people from falling ill and dying from tobacco-related diseases, combat poverty and reduce large-scale environmental degradation.

AIR correspondent reports, tobacco use kills more than seven million people every year and costs households and governments over 1.4 trillion dollar through health care expenditure and lost productivity.

Controlling the Tobacco Epidemic will Control the TB epidemic
Tobacco threatens all people, national and regional development, in many ways, including poverty. Many studies have shown that in the poorest households, spending on tobacco products often represents more than 10% of total household expenditure – meaning less money for food, education and healthcare.

Tobacco farming stops children attending school. Around 60%–70% of tobacco farm workers are women, putting them in close contact with often hazardous chemicals. Tobacco is one of the major risk factor for Non Communicable Disease and for TB and lung diseases.

Tobacco and TB:  India is high-burden country for TB and one of the high-burden tobacco use countries. 40% of the TB burden in India may be attributed to smoking. Smoking increases the risk of TB disease by more than two-and-a-half times. We need to follow  WHO recommended policies to control Tobacco and TB :

• Control tobacco everywhere, but especially where people are at risk of TB infection 
• Coordinate national TB and tobacco control programs 
• Cross-train TB and tobacco control health workers 
• Register TB patients' tobacco use and offer them counselling and treatment
• Promote and enforce smoke-free policies, particularly where TB services are delivered