SRINAGAR — Jammu and Kashmir, renowned for its breathtaking landscapes, finds itself battling a widespread tobacco epidemic. As the prevalence of tobacco use reaches alarming levels, urgent measures are being implemented to combat this growing crisis. The story sheds light on the severity of the situation and the collective efforts underway to educate the public about the dire consequences of tobacco consumption.
J&K has 6th highest prevalence of tobacco use in India
According to officials, Jammu and Kashmir Union Territory ranks as the 6th State/UT in India with the highest prevalence of tobacco use, with over 20 percent of the population indulging in tobacco consumption.
The data reveals that smoking tobacco is prevalent among 20.8% of the population, positioning J&K as the 6th highest in the country. Additionally, smokeless tobacco usage stands at 4.3%, the lowest in the country. Shockingly, various regions in Kashmir report alarmingly high tobacco prevalence rates, such as Kupwara (56%), Shopian (52%), and Anantnag (49%).
To combat this epidemic, the government has initiated a series of measures aimed at reducing the percentage of tobacco consumption. Stringent enforcement has resulted in over 20,000 challans being issued, collecting more than Rs 15 lakh in fines from violators found smoking in public places within the Kashmir division. Moreover, awareness programs and counseling sessions have helped numerous individuals quit smoking, ensuring a healthier society.
32% men, 1% women consume tobacco in J&K: NHFS-5
National Family Health Survey (NFHS-5) data exposes a distressing gender disparity in tobacco consumption in Jammu and Kashmir. Approximately 32 percent of men and only one percent of women indulge in tobacco use.
Cigarettes remain the primary tobacco product, with 27 percent of men smoking them, followed by bidis (4%), hookah, and cigars or pipes (2% each). The prevalence of tobacco use is slightly higher in rural areas compared to urban areas. Additionally, an alarming survey reveals that 23 percent of school-going adolescents in Srinagar are smokers.
To address this growing concern, concerted efforts are being made to educate the younger generation about the hazards of tobacco use. The survey underscores the need for parental involvement and anti-smoking campaigns to prevent adolescents from falling prey to this gateway to drug abuse. With over half of the adolescents exposed to secondhand smoke, it is crucial to create smoke-free environments and provide comprehensive smoking cessation programs.
Tobacco smoking in public places on decline in J&K: Secretary H&ME
Amidst the prevailing tobacco crisis, Jammu and Kashmir has witnessed a decline in tobacco smoking at public places. The Secretary of Health and Medical Education, Bhupinder Kumar, highlights the success of campaigns and initiatives aimed at raising awareness about the ill effects of tobacco smoking.
In an effort to engage the public further, leading personalities such as Dr. Shahid Iqbal Choudhary, Dr. Sushil Razdan, and Parvaiz Rasool have been appointed as brand ambassadors to contribute to the educational campaigns.
Health officials emphasize the importance of awareness to combat tobacco consumption effectively. Smoking is recognized as a gateway to drug abuse, and secondhand and thirdhand smoking pose significant risks to individuals and families. The unregulated sale of imported cigarettes and the rise of e-cigarettes further compound the issue. A multi-pronged strategy is necessary to reduce tobacco consumption and its associated health hazards.
As the alarming prevalence of tobacco use grips Jammu and Kashmir, urgent action is imperative. By combining strict enforcement, awareness campaigns, and the involvement of influential personalities, the aim is to curb the tobacco epidemic and safeguard the well-being of the population.