The Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare on Thursday launched a new anti-tobacco mass media campaign called 'Sunita' to warn people about the devastating effects of smoking and consumption of smokeless tobacco on one's health. The campaign launched in New Delhi will tell us the story of 27-year-old Sunita Tomar from a small town in Madhya Pradesh.
Sunita, a mother two sons aged 12 and 13, will share her story with us especially for those who are in the grip of vices like smoking and chewing tobacco.
The 30 second Public Service Announcement (PSA) will show Sunita describing her happy life before she started using tobacco and how this habit took a terrible toll on her health and appearance as she never expected to develop oral cancer. The PSA will highlight Sunita's appearance 'before' and 'now', after undergoing an operation to remove the cancerous growth and a part of her mouth and will end with a warning against using tobacco.
This PSA which was developed by the Ministry of Health with technical assistance from World Lung Foundation, has been translated into 17 languages and will run for five weeks nationally on all government and private TV and radio channels in every state through the National Tobacco Control Programme (NTCP). The anti-tobacco ad will also be screened in cinemas and theatres under the Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products Act (COTPA) Film Rule.
Dr Pankaj Chaturvedi, a senior cancer surgeon from Tata Memorial Hospital where Sunita was treated, said, “What is distressing is that people have been misled by the tobacco industry to believe that smokeless tobacco can play a role in dental health.
Sunita thought she was looking after her teeth and not harming her health, but there is no safe level of tobacco use.
The patients we treat are a constant reminder that tobacco is deadly in both cigarette and smokeless forms and we need to do more to raise awareness of this fact. We are confident that powerful campaigns such as Sunita can have a huge impact on increasing awareness of the real harms of smokeless tobacco use and help to build support for a much-needed ban on smokeless tobacco products.”
The Ministry of Health in its previous campaign had narrated the story of Mukesh, a young man who died of oral cancer owing to his habit of chewing tobacco.