Launch of National Tobacco Control Campaign ‘Tears You Apart’

Ministry of Health & Family Welfare, Government of India has launched a nation-wide National Tobacco Control Campaign called “Tears you apart”. The Campaign aims to raise public awareness about the dangers of smokeless tobacco consumed by tens of millions of Indian every day.

Smokeless tobacco is the most-used form of tobacco in India among lower socioeconomic groups and women in particular preferring smokeless tobacco over smoking forms. Global Adult Tobacco Survey (GATS) found that 21 crore Indian use smokeless tobacco. 26% of adults consume smokeless tobacco in India – 33% of adult males and 18.4% of adult females. Smokeless tobacco includes: gutkha, zarda, paan masala, zarda, paan with tobacco, and khaini.

The Campaign has been developed with technical support from world Lung Foundation.

The campaign public service announcement (PSA) was filmed in B. Barooah Cancer Institute in Guwahati, Assam and at the Tata Memorial Hospital in Mumbai, Maharashtra. The PSA features real victims who are suffering from horrific cancers and disfigurements as a result of their chewing addition. It also includes comments from relatives of victims, who describe how tobacco-related illnesses have destroyed careers, family life, and added to financial burdens. The PSA graphically warns the public that tobacco can literally tear lives and families apart, and urges smokeless tobacco users to quit and habit.

The Campaign PSA is being released in 16 languages in a national campaign for Pan-India coverage. The Campaign will make use of all national and regional Doordarshan channels and All India Radio. The Campaign is expected to run for a period of 5-6 weeks.

Tobacco is the most preventable cause of death and disease in the world today. Tobacco is a risk factor for 6 out of the 8 leading causes of death. Globally approximately 6 million people die each year as result of diseases caused by tobacco consumption. If urgent action is not taken, the death toll could rise to more than eight million by 2030. It is estimated that nearly 8-9 lakh people die every year due to diseases related to tobacco use in India with 5500 new youth starting tobacco use every day. About 50% of all cancers in males and 25% of all cancers in females can be attributed to tobacco use. It is estimated that about 90% of all the oral cancers are caused due to smokeless tobacco use.

As per the Global Adult Tobacco Survey – India (GATS) conducted by Ministry of Health & Family Welfare, 35% of the adults in the age group of 15 years and above consume tobacco in some form or the other with 48% males and 20% females consuming tobacco. Nearly, two in five (38%) adults in rural areas and one in four (25%) adults in urban areas use tobacco in some form or the other.

The campaign will support the ongoing efforts of the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare for Implementation of the Food Safety and Standard Authority (FSSAI) regulation 2.3.4 which inter alia prohibit use of tobacco or nicotine in any food product. About 33 states/UTs have issued instructions for implementation of the said regulation which prohibit production, storage and sale of gutkha and pas masala containing tobacco.