consumption is the greatest cause for preventable death
globally. Some might find relief in the thought that they smoke
occasionally or not at all. However, such persons are not entirely free from
the pervasive presence of tobacco smoke clouding the urban landscape; we are
all also choked by second hand smoke.
to address this issue is of paramount importance, but no endeavor can achieve its zenith until it is supported by
representatives of the civil society organizations who lend on-ground realities
to national-level visions. Manas foundation, as a Delhi based mental health
organization is one such trust which came forth on this occasion as an agent
aiming to create awareness about the hazards of tobacco usage, as well as
reducing the anxiety among tobacco users by focusing on the resolution to quit
tobacco. The theme for World No Tobacco Day 2014 was "Raise Taxes on
Part of a magnificent effort being made in the same direction on
May 30th 2014, at Nirman Bhavan, an enthusiastic team of Manas Foundation
assembled early in the morning to contribute its bit to this endeavor. We set
up a stall which looked very much like a cigarette stall from a distance, with
dummy cigarette boxes stacked up on the shelves of the stall as well as wreaths
of cards which were imitation pan masala sachets hung along the sides of the
dummy cigarette boxes were devised as reminder cues to strike a chord in the
mind regarding the hazardous effects of tobacco use. They contained flash cards
to help instill a powerful schema in the minds of smokers and non-smokers and
replace the mindless consumption of tobacco with an informed
reconceptualization of this hazardous habit. With the use of globally
standardized graphic warning signs printed on the flashcards and dummy gutka
packets, the harmful effects of tobacco use were visually and unabashedly
depicted. These were intended to prompt people to think twice before succumbing
to the habit of tobacco consumption and
reconsider its continuing usage.
Certificates were also
arranged to be given to those who were willing to pledge to discontinue
consuming tobacco on the occasion of World No Tobacco Day 2014, based on the
rationale of a collective encouragement towards the daunting task of quitting
since Manas believes in pursuing any endeavor in a holistic manner, our goal
was not simply to encourage the quitting of tobacco, but also to address the
conflict and anxiety asociated with its usage in people aware of its harmful
effects. We aimed to create a space where people could seek help to change
without being overwhelmed by self-doubt or fear. To this end, we also made
available some self scoring questionnaires which could help one assess the degree
to which they are in the tobacco habit, with a non-disclosure policy to promote
self-aware and informed action, without the risk of stigmatization.
A strong platform was
provided to this event by the primary agencies working globally for the
betterment of people. The World Health Organization (WHO), the Public Health
Foundation of India (PHFI), as well as the Voluntary
Health Association of India (VHAI) organized the event in the
capital city and invited Manas Foundation to contribute its mental health expertise
to this endeavor.
Manas foundation also incepted the Youth Advocate for World No
Tobacco Day, Vanessa Singh, the daughter of Manas foundation’s founder and
managing trustee Monica Kumar. The youth advocate speech was a powerful
initiation to the rally from Nirman Bhawan to India Gate, and was very well
received by the guest of honor for the occasion, the Union Health Minister, Dr.
Harsh Vardhan. His previous success in the venture of Polio eradication made him a
desirable choice to honour this event. Dr. Harsh Vardhan rightly equated
tobacco consumption with death and spoke fervently over the ill-effects of
tobacco consumption and lent credibility to his message by sharing his
experience of having worked in the medical field for the last 30 years. We were
fortunate to have Dr. Harsh Vardhan grace our stall with his presence and
receive his positive feedback on our uniquely conceptualized endeavour.
Besides Manas, the event
was energized by the presence of the youth, in form of girls pursuing martial arts
from Physical Education Foundation of India, who were led by Sunita Godra.
Children from G.D Goenka School were additionally present in large numbers and
were seen rehearsing zealously for the rally to be led from Nirman Bhavan to
India Gate for the promotion of this cause. The youth’s participation in this
endeavor was furthered by the presence of the equally zestful core group of 150
members from the National Cadet Corps (NCC), various other school and youth
representatives from Jamia Millia Islamia, all of whom made the contribution of
the youth positive and irrefutable.
Thus, on the occasion of
World No Tobacco Day 2014, Manas along with the aforementioned groups
represented the urgent need to take firm steps in the direction of creating a
tobacco free nation.