Kanpur Catholics join anti-tobacco campaign

Kanpur: The Catholic community of Kanpur has supported the campaign to make Kanpur tobacco free by May 31, the international No Tobacco Day.

An awareness campaign was held in St Patrick’s Church, Cantonment, after the Sunday morning service on May 24. Parish priest Fr Thomas Kumar reminded Christ’s advice that if any part of the body becomes a cause for sin it is better to cut it off. Likewise, people should throw out tobacco products from their lives as they cause ill-health and death.

K.V. Vincent, principal, Huddard School, explained how he has kept the school free of tobacco for several years. Self-discipline, he added, is crucial to kick the habit. Small steps can make a big difference in life. It is no use blaming others for one’s own lack of self-control.

Nidhi Bajpai, a trained psychologist and Nodal Authority of the District Tobacco Control Cell, explained the tobacco control movement spearheaded by Kanpur District Magistrate Roshan Jacob. Bajpai said it is encumbent on every citizen to create awareness of the health hazards of tobacco consumption. “We need to tell people that such consumption in public places is both an offence and also socially unacceptable,” she added.

Arindam Bhattacharya, special secretary, Health, Government of Uttar Pradesh, said that the pleasure that one derived from tobacco consumption was short lived, but the ill effects were long term. “To help tobacco addicts kick the habit we need to give them a moral boost, and divert their attention to other pleasurable pastimes like sports or music.”

He said that although man is supposed to be an intelligent being he is the most foolish when it comes to self-destruction. “Nowhere in the animal kingdom do we find any species self-destructing the way humans do, as with tobacco,” he added.

Chhotebhai, president, Kanpur Catholic Association, called for a total ban on chewing tobacco (gutka).

About 250 members of the congregation signed the no tobacco pledge.

kanpur1Two days earlier a similar program was held in St Aloysius’ School on the same premises. 300 students from grades 9 – 12 participated. The main speaker was K.C. Samuel, the nonagenarian former Director of the J.K. Cancer Institute. He had been practicing histapathology for the last 65 years and shared his wealth of experience with the students.

Samuel said the word cancer came from the word for crab, which keeps burrowing in unnoticed. Cancer is usually fatal and its treatment very expensive. One tablet costs 8,000 rupees and one needs treatment for a minimum of 6 months. He stated that tobacco contained a poisonous and carcinogenic resin.

Chewing tobacco (gutka) causes oral cancer. This is particularly prevalent in India where gutka consumption is high. Smoking is equally dangerous as it causes lung cancer. Samuel said that lower income group people were more prone to these diseases because of a poor diet and lower resistance.

Noted Gandhian, Jagdambabhai said that saliva is nature’s way of helping mastication and aiding digestion. But gutka users keep spitting this out, thereby endangering their own health. “Besides, by spitting in public, we make the environment filthy and unhygienic.

At the end of the awareness program Fr Kumar, who is also the school principal, administered the “Say No To Tobacco” pledge to the students and staff present.

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