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Dabbawals to deliver 'tobacco free' message along with dabbas

Thursday, 29 May 2014 - 6:30am IST | Agency: dna

Around 1,200 dabbawalas across the city will not just deliver hot food but will also tag a health message – life is short. Don't make it shorter. Quit cigarette or quit life... make your choice! This initiative will be a part of the World Tobacco Day, observed on May 31.

They have been roped in by Salaam Bombay Foundation (SBF) in association with Bajaj Electricals to promote 'tobacco free India' message. They will not only pledge themselves to the cause but also inform their customers about the ill effects of tobacco use.

Aditi Parikh, communication and resource mobilisation head, SBF said, "World No Tobacco, is an important day for focusing on health in society in general as tobacco intake is a huge killer across the world. We roped in dabbawallas as they have a wide reach in Mumbai."

Parikh further added that when SBF had approached the dabbawalas association, the association confessed that a major percentage of dabbawalas are addicted to tobacco products and this initiative will help spread awareness among them too.

"We are going to oragnise a debriefing workshops for the dabbawalas on why they should say no to tobacco and the health hazards associated with it. They must understand the message they are preaching," said Parikh.

"We have selected dabbawalas operating in six areas. We have selected six railway stations that includes Andheri, Dadar, Lower Parel, Charni Road, Marine Lines and Churchgate," said Parikh. The dabbawalas will be wearing a badge and t-shirt saying a 'tobacco free messages' while they go to deliver the dabbas.

Tobacco products can broadly be classified into two categories – smoke-emitting items (cigarettes and bidis) and smoke-free ones (khaini, mava, gutkha and pan masala).Estimates have pegged the number of tobacco users in India to 27.5 crore. Of these, 25.9% use smokeless tobacco, 5.7% smoke cigarettes and 9.2% smoke bidis.

Rampant use of chewable tobacco has led to over 80,000 new cases of oral cancers being reported annually, making India the world's oral cancer capital. So far, 16 states and three Union territories have banned gutkha and pan masala with tobacco/nicotine. It was in July 18, 2012 that state government issued a notification banning the sale and consumption of gutkha and pan masala. Presently, gutkha, pan masala, scented tobacco and supari is banned.

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