Thiruvananthapuram Swadeshi Sangamam (TSS) Jeddah, an Indian social and cultural organization, and Global Environmental Management Services (GEMS) in collaboration with Jeddah National Hospital (JNH) launched a weeklong "No tobacco campaign" to raise awareness among people of the harmful effects of various tobacco products in the human body.
The campaign coincides with the World Health Organization's World Tobacco Day, which falls on May 31. It is mainly intended to encourage public to quit smoking and stop using various tobacco products, said TSS President Mohammed Shajeer during the inauguration of the campaign at Impala Garden in Jeddah.
Campaign convener M.K. Ashraf Kaniyapuram said his organization would adopt various methods including graphic images and a trilingual brochure printed with the harmful and adverse impact of smoking in human health to create public awareness. TSS squad will visit city centers, industrial parks, residents and labor camps, etc. to distribute some 5,000 flyers and brochures.
“TSS will also use email facility to forward these flyers and brochures to a minimum of 5,000 readers with a request to forward them to their links,” Ashraf said.
Abdul Rahim, managing director of Sameera Polyclinic, inaugurated the function. He commended TSS for organizing such a useful campaign. The function was attended by a large expatriate community including doctors, executives and office bearers of TSS, GEMS and JNH.
Dr. Ali Akbar gave a presentation highlighting the hazards of smoking. Apart from heart disease, the risk of cancers of the oral cavity, lung, esophagus, and larynx is very high among tobacco users, he said. Although the number of smokers has been decreased, the consumption of smokeless tobacco has increased alarmingly. The impact of passive smoking is also very dangerous, Akbar pointed out.
During the question and answer session, a good number of people narrated their stories about smoking habits and the relief they are enjoying once they quit smoking.
“According to statistics, about 22,000 people die in Saudi Arabia each year of various diseases resulting from smoking,” said Kaniyapuram. “As per the WHO, there are 6 million smokers in the Kingdom, 1.5 million of whom are women,” he pointed out.
Saudi Arabia is the fourth largest importer of tobacco with an average annual consumption per individual put at 2,130 cigarettes. The Kingdom imported 57,838 tons of tobacco in 2011 valued at SR3.3 billion compared to SR2.1 billion in 2009. About 5 million people die each year in the world as a result of smoking.
Two attendees, Zakeer and Babu, announced their decision to quit smoking during the event, and the huge gathering welcomed them with applause.
Kaniyapuram said the campaign would target teenage smokers.
Among others, the GEMS financial director, Kaniyapuram and K.H.A Muneer delivered speeches supporting the campaign. Jeddah media forum Chairman Usman Irumpuzhi, Asianet TV reporter Jaleel Kannamangalam, and Jeevan TV reporter Khalid Cherplasseri wished all success for TSS's initiative for such a noble cause.