Kohima, April 15: The Nagaland State health department has initiated an anti-tobacco campaign in schools to reduce the usage of tobacco among children. The campaign titled “tobacco-free school to tobacco-free home” was launched at Little Flower Higher Secondary School in Kohima, with the commissioner and secretary, H&FW, Y Kikheto Sema as the special guest.
During the launching program, Kikheto Sema revealed that Nagaland had registered 700 new cancer cases, and 43% of children aged between 13-15 years were tobacco users. He described the trend as “alarming” and emphasized that the state government had declared all educational institutions, including government and private schools, as “tobacco-free zones” from May 1, 2023.
Out of 2684 schools in Nagaland, only 356 schools, comprising just 13.26%, were tobacco-free. Kikheto stated that tobacco is one of the primary causes of preventable deaths globally, responsible for 8.2 million deaths, including 1.3 million deaths in India.
In North East India, 49% of all cancer cases in men and 22 % in women were attributed to tobacco use, respectively.
Kikheto informed that the state government had declared all private hospitals and health institutions as “tobacco-free zones” with effect from April 11, 2023.
In January 2023, all government hospitals, health care centers, and health offices, including the directorate of health and family welfare, were declared as “tobacco-free zones.” The commissioner stated that soon, all government and public offices and institutions would also be declared tobacco-free zones.
Kikheto described the “tobacco-free home” campaign as “historic” and the first of its kind in the country and the world. He stated that Little Flower Higher Secondary School was chosen as the venue because it was an all-girls school. Girls are efficient agents of change and are key to sustainable development and quality of life in the family.
The objectives of the “tobacco-free home” campaign include creating awareness among students to educate their families about the harmful effects of tobacco. Once educational institutions become tobacco-free, students will have more knowledge to create awareness in their homes. The campaign aims to have a significant impact on the overall behavior of citizens.
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During the event, 24 certificates for the declaration of “tobacco-free homes” were distributed to parents and students. Sister Superior Rosemary Adaphro delivered the welcome address and gave the invocation, while the LFHSS Anti-Tobacco Club presented the club anthem.
Additional director, Dr. Chiekroshuyi Tetseo delivered the keynote address, and the deputy director, &SNO(NTCP), Dr. Arenla Walling, proposed a vote of thanks. The program was chaired by joint director & SPO (NHOP) H&FW, Dr. Meribeni Odyuo.
The Nagaland State health department’s anti-tobacco campaign in schools aims to create awareness among students, parents, and the community about the harmful effects of tobacco. The campaign’s success can pave the way for a healthier and safer environment for citizens and promote a tobacco-free lifestyle.