World Environment Day (WED 2010): Smoke-free environment is a right

World Environment Day, June 5
Second-hand tobacco smoke is dangerous to health. It causes cancer, heart disease and many other serious life-threatening diseases in adults. "Almost half of the world's children breathe air polluted by tobacco smoke, which worsens their asthma conditions and causes dangerous diseases. At least 2 lakhs workers die every year due to exposure to second-hand smoke at work" said Professor (Dr) Rama Kant, World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General's WNTD Awardee in a media interface to mark World Environment Day (WED 2010), on 5th of June.

Incidentally, this year 2010 is the Year of the Lung to recognize that hundreds of millions of people around the world suffer each year from treatable and preventable chronic respiratory diseases like asthma. This initiative acknowledges that lung health has long been neglected in public discourses, and understands the need to unify different health advocates behind one purpose of lung health, informed Dr Nils Billo, Chair of the Forum of International Respiratory Societies (FIRS). Read more

Tobacco is the leading preventable cause of death in the world. It causes 1 in 10 deaths among adults worldwide. Ensuring a tobacco smoke-free environment is the only way to protect ourselves from the lethal ill effects of tobacco smoke, said Prof Rama Kant.

According to WHO, there are some 4000 known chemicals in tobacco smoke; more than 50 of them are known to cause cancer in humans. Tobacco smoke in enclosed spaces is breathed in by everyone, exposing smokers and non-smokers alike to its harmful effects.

According to the International Labour Organization (ILO), 2 lakh workers die every year due to exposure to second-hand tobacco smoke at work.

"There is no safe level of exposure to second-hand tobacco smoke. Neither ventilation nor filtration, even in combination, can reduce tobacco smoke exposure indoors to levels that are considered acceptable. Only 100% smoke-free environments provide effective protection" said Prof Rama Kant.

Prof Rama Kant is also the Head of the Department of Surgery at CSM Medical University (upgraded King George's Medical College - KGMC) and serves as the elected President of UP Chapter of Association of Surgeons of India (ASI), elected Governing Council member (2010-2012) of ASI, and President of Lucknow College of Surgeons (LCS).

Article 8 of the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, recognizes that exposure to tobacco smoke causes death, disease and disability, and asks countries to adopt and implement legislation that provides protection from second-hand smoke.

Many countries around the world have already introduced laws to protect people from exposure to tobacco smoke in public places. India is one of them.

"An Act on no-smoking in public places has been brought out by the Centre two-and-a-half years ago, but it remained only on paper. Now, we have made a modification in the already enforced rule and from 2 October 2008, the modified rule will be enforced strongly across the country," had said then Dr Anbumani Ramadoss, Union Health and Family Welfare Minister in early 2008. On 2nd October 2008, India did become smoke-free as we had a ban on smoking in public places. But in terms of implementation of this smoke-free policy, a lot more needs to be done as the current situation is truly appalling.

The Cigarettes and other Tobacco Products (Prohibition of Advertisement and Regulation of Trade and Commerce, Production, Supply and Distribution) Act-2003, of the Government of India had notified revised Rules on the Prohibition of Smoking in Public Places on 30 May 2008, and as per the revised Rules, smoking is banned in shopping malls, cinema halls, public/private work place, hotels, banquet halls, discotheques, canteen, coffee house, pubs, bars, airport lounge, railway stations and other public places, from 2nd October 2008 onwards.

Contrary to common belief, smoke-free environments are widely supported by both smokers and non-smokers.

Having a smoke-free environment often saves money for bars and restaurant owners, reducing their risks of fire and consequently their insurance costs. It often results in lower renovation, cleaning and maintenance costs too.

Bobby Ramakant - CNS

Published in:
Thai-Indian News, Bangkok, Thailand
Elites TV News, USA
Modern Ghana News, Accra, Ghana
Citizen News Service (CNS), India/Thailand
Bihar and Jharkhand News Service (BJNS)
Scoop News, New Zealand
The Colombo Times, Colombo, Sri Lanka, UK
CNS Tobacco Control Initiative