The ban on the use of smokeless tobacco products during the ongoing lockdown to curb the spread of coronavirus is an opportunity for tobacco users to get rid of the harmful habit, say health experts.
“The ongoing lockdown and the non-availability of the tobacco products can be turned into an opportunity to free the tobacco addicts from the habit,” said Dr R K Jain, senior oncologist at Kota Medical College.
The Union Health Ministry had last month asked all states to prohibit the use and spitting of smokeless tobacco in public places to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.
“Chewing smokeless tobacco products, paan masala and areca nut (supari) increases the production of saliva followed by a very strong urge to spit.
Spitting in public places could enhance the spread of the COVID-19 virus,” the ministry had said in a letter to chief secretaries of all states and union territories.
Jain said the government’s advisory on the tobacco products should be strictly enforced on the ground on the lines of the counties like Singapore and Malaysia and the violators should be heavily penalised.
“There is a widespread culture of chewing paan masala and other tobacco products. It is not only harmful to the health of a person, but the saliva generated by these products can also cause problems for others like it can lead to the spread of coronavirus infection if a person is COVID-19 positive,” said Dr Amit Goyal, an oncologist at All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), Jodhpur, and Voice of Tobacco Victims (VOTV) State patron.
He said it was the right time for the users of such products to get rid of them.
A total of 14.1% of all adults (aged 15+) use smokeless tobacco in Rajasthan, while 13.2% of all adults smoke tobacco, as per the Global Adult Tobacco Survey-2.