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New Campaign “Promise To Protect” Launched on Gandhi Jayanti to Save Students and Youth from Harms of Tobacco

So far, over 1 lakh pledges by school teachers and students have been taken to build a tobacco-free future

Department of School Education and Literacy, Ministry of Education, Government of India launched a new campaign bringing together more than 1,000 school teachers pan India to take the pledge ‘Promise to Protect‘ for a tobacco-free India

According to Global Youth Tobacco Survey-4 (2019), 38% of cigarette, 47% of bidi smokers and 52% of smokeless tobacco users in India initiate use before their 10th birthday. On Gandhi Jayanti, the Ministry of Education, Government of India launched a new campaign “Promise To Protect” at a digital conference, bringing together over 1,000 teachers across India pledging to protect students and youth from tobacco addiction and keep their schools tobacco free. Promise to Protect is a compelling digital campaign, including a Pledge, aimed at creating awareness on the harmful effects of tobacco and an effort towards preventing youth from initiation of tobacco use. In alignment with the Tobacco Free Educational Institutions guidelines of the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MOHFW), the campaign seeks to protect and promote public health in India. The digital conference moderated by renowned television actor and presenter Karanvir Bohra, was joined by eminent speakers and panelists – Shri Sanjay Kumar, Secretary (School Education), Ministry of Education, Government of India, Dr. Joseph Emmanuel Director (Academics) Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE), Dr. Pankaj Chaturvedi, Head and Neck Cancer Surgeon, Tata Memorial Hospital, and Dr Vishal Rao, Group Director for Head & Neck Surgical Oncology and Robotic Surgery at HCG Cancer Centre, Bengaluru.Besides them, the conference hosted victims of tobacco use, who talked about their life journey and struggles due to tobacco use.

Actor and presenter Karanvir Bohra at the campaign launch

The 1,000 teachers as well as their schools together took an online pledge as a sign of their commitment towards building a healthier and tobacco-free future for the youth of the nation. So far, over 1 lakh pledges by school teachers and students have been taken. Selected teachers shared poignant personal stories related to tobacco use and its profound impact, lending gravity to the situation. The collaborators presented their educational initiatives and plans to implement tobacco control education in their curriculum, highlighting the crucial role of early education in preventing initiation of tobacco use.

In his keynote address, Shri Sanjay Kumar, IAS, Secretary (School Education), Ministry of Education, Government of Indiasaid, “India is the second largest user of tobacco products and tobacco addiction of a large number of adults has been initiated during adolescence. Young minds such as school children can be easily influenced into tobacco use with long-term damaging effects on health and well-being. I strongly believe that initiatives such as “Promise to Protect” have the potential to engage teachers, students and the youth in general on a united platform and will converge the efforts of various government agencies and organizations.” He called upon the teachers to engage with students on personal level and motivate them to stay away from any kind of addiction.

Dr. Joseph Emmanuel Director (Academics) Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) Government of India, New Delhi said, “The Tobacco-free educational institution guidelines (TEFI) aim to create smoke-free environment around educational institutions. It prohibits the sale, advertisement, and use of tobacco products on educational campuses, ensuring a healthy learning atmosphere. These guidelines safeguard public health, protects our youth, and paves the way for a brighter, smoke-free future. It is imperative to educate the youth on the role and risks related to tobacco consumption to eradicate the menace caused by it. Let us stand united in this vital endeavor for a healthier and thriving nation.” Let us all be united with the Ministry of Education for the success of this noble endeavor for a tobacco free world.

Sharing his views, Dr. Pankaj Chaturvedi, Head and Neck Cancer Surgeon, Tata Memorial Hospital said, “Tobacco use is a leading preventable cause of death in the world, and in India, it is responsible for around1 million deathsannually. In India, 28.6% of people older than 15 years of age consumed some forms of tobacco. While various initiatives and innovative teaching methods are being adopted by schools across the country to educate students about the dangers of tobacco, it is crucial to introduce awareness programs in schools to educate students about the risks of tobacco use. It is necessary to implement anti-tobacco education in the curriculum, highlighting the crucial role of early education in preventing tobacco initiation. I encourage the youth to give up the habit of tobacco use, and not consider it a style statement no matter how much the tobacco industry and OTT platforms may try to promote the same.”

“Drawing inspiration from Gandhijis teachings, Im proud to be part of the Promise to Protect campaign, which seeks to safeguard our nations future from the clutches of tobacco. Im deeply grateful to the Ministry of Education for spearheading this endeavour. This isnt merely a cause; its a calling. I urge everyone to join us, pledge on our website, and be a beacon of change. Lets collectively ensure that our children inherit a healthier, tobacco-free India,” said Karanvir Bohra, TV Actor and Anchor.

The conference reinforced the idea of “Nasha Mukt Bharat” (the government’s initiative aimed at making the country drug-free) on 2nd October marking the 153rd Birth Anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi, the Father of the National. On this day in 2008, the government had also mandated the smoke-free laws in the country. The event also highlighted that just as Mahatma Gandhi led India towards freedom, our teachers today can lead our youth towards a tobacco-free future. This campaign was developed in a partnership with the International Union Against Tuberculosis and Lung Diseases. 21 civil society organizations joined the campaign and helped mobilize a large network of teachers, schools and pledges.

Video Link:www.youtube.com/watchv=fIL2oB-WP30

The Promise to Protect pledge website: promisetoprotect.co.in.

“We, the teachers and students of India, Promise to Protect our friends, our families, ourselves and our planet from the harmful effects of tobacco. We promise to educate, to inspire, and to support a Tobacco free India.”

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