Every year, 31″ May is observed as World No Tobacco Day (WNTD), highlighting the health and other risks associated with tobacco use, and advocating for effective policies to reduce tobacco consumption. The theme for this year’s WNTD is ‘Protecting youth from industry manipulation and preventing them from tobacco and nicotine use Tobacco’. The campaign aims to sensitize and make the youth aware about the harmful effects of tobacco use and expose the tactics employed by the industry to attract the youth.

As per WHO fact sheet on COVID-19 and NCDs, people with pre-existing non-communicable diseases (NCDs) also appear to be more vulnerable to becoming severely ill with COVID-19. These NCDs include Cardiovascular disease (e.g. hypertension, persons who have had, or are at risk for, a heart attack or stroke); Chronic respiratory disease (e.g. COPD); Diabetes; Cancer. Smokers suffer from reduced lung capacity in the long term which greatly increases risk of serious illness including when affected due to COVID-19.

Further, smokeless tobacco users have a tendency to spit in public places or otherwise and therefore, increase health risks especially those of spreading infectious and contagious diseases like COVID 19, tuberculosis, swine flu, encephalitis, etc. The use of smokeless tobacco also creates unhygienic environment which further spreads the diseases. Large gathering at the retail outlets where smokeless tobacco products are sold, also pose the risk of spread of COVID-19.

The Guidelines issued by Ministry of Home Affairs under National Disaster Management Act, stipulate that Spitting in public & work places shall be punishable with fine, as may be prescribed by the State/ local authority .

We understand that due to various norms/guidelines issued to control the spread of COVID-19, organizing regular WNTD activities could not be conducted this year. However, people should be made aware about the harmful effects of tobacco products especially linkage of tobacco use with the COVID-19 through the media.

In view of above ,State Tobacco Control Cell Health and Family welfare Department has decided to campaign through print media & social media, we appeal everyone to come forward and join hands to make our state “TOBACCO FREE” and also help to control spread of COVID 19.

Last but not least “do not Spit”, “just Quit ” and stay fit.

Issued in public interest by:

State Tobacco Control Cell,

Health & Family Welfare Department,

Government of Sikkim.

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