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Hyderabad: Sports icons vow to protect youth from tobacco harms

Hyderabad: Sports icons vow to protect youth from tobacco harms
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The Indian sports icons have come together to spread awareness against tobacco use and its ill-effects

Hyderabad: Indian sports icons including cricketer VVS Laxman, ace shuttlers P Gopichand and PV Sindhu have pledged to protect the youth and next generation from the harms of tobacco use on 'World No Tobacco Day' on Sunday.

The Indian sports icons have come together to spread awareness against tobacco use and its ill-effects. "Youth are the backbone of a nation.

The future of a country lies in the hands of the youth. It is heartening these youth icons have pledged their support for spreading mass awareness against the use of tobacco to make young students aware of the repercussions of tobacco consumption and the need to stay away from any form of tobacco," Voluntary Health Association of India senior programme officer Binoy Mathew said.

According to Global Youth Tobacco Survey (GYTS) carried out by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW) and conducted amongst the students in India, 14.6 per cent of 13 to 15-year-old students are using tobacco in India.

Of those, 8.1 per cent of students smoked tobacco. As many as 11 per cent of all male students surveyed were found to be users of smoking or smokeless tobacco, while 6 per cent of female students used smokeless tobacco and 3.7 per cent smoked tobacco.

Nearly 37 per cent children in India initiate smoking before the age of 10 and each day, 5,500 children begin tobacco use.

The findings of these studies highlight the need for targeted interventions among youth in general and students in particular, especially given the marketing overdrive of the tobacco industry to promote the use of tobacco among youth.

Every year on May 31 World Health Organization (WHO) and partners mark World No Tobacco Day (WNTD). The focus of World No Tobacco Day 2020 is "Protecting youth from industry manipulation and preventing them from tobacco and nicotine use."

The tobacco related industries manipulate youth by different tactics including use of flavours that are attractive to youth in tobacco and nicotine products like cherry, bubble gum and cotton candy, which encourages young people to underestimate the related health risks and to start using them.

Sleek designs and attractive products, which can also be easy to carry, are deceptive (e.g. products shaped like a USB stick or candy).

Celebrity/influencer sponsorships and brand sponsored contests to promote tobacco and nicotine products (e.g. Instagram influencers) etc, are some of the tactics by the companies.

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