Center for Communications, Health and the Environment
Spring 2008 Vol. 3, Issue 1

CECHE-Sponsored Tobacco-Control Program Reduces Beedi Production and Smoking in S. India

CECHE, with Chennai-based NGO Roshni, is conducting an anti-tobacco program in Pattur, South India , where until 2004, all 2,500 families supported themselves by rolling beedis, small, unfiltered cigarettes.

The program provides vocational training and job placement in non-tobacco trades for families. It also offers incentives to refrain from tobacco-related activities. During 2006, for example, the partners celebrated World No Tobacco day and awarded scholarships to nearly 150 boys, girls and college students with no smoking or beedi rolling in their families. That same year, nearly 300 villagers participated in prize-filled Roshni-sponsored competitions and oratorical contests.

Nutritionist Dr. Sherifa conducts a self-help group in Pattur.

In 2007, Roshni-CECHE self-help groups comprising 20 women each continued their weekly sessions to train Pattur families in smoking cessation, nutrition, health and hygiene. Sponsoring regular activities such as health camps, these groups provide valuable vocational training in non-tobacco trades such as tailoring and focus on income-generating skills such as using micro-credit programmes. Employing print and electric media to reach its audience and promote its goals throughout 2007, Roshni celebrated World No Tobacco Day in May with the Anti-Tobacco Clinic, Cancer Institute and Tuberculosis Research Center of Chennai, attracting hundreds of participants via a mass-media campaign complete with a poster competition and a health education drive targeting teens.

Over the last two years, from 2005 to 2007, more than 200 individuals and 20 families have left beedi production for garment design, tailoring and em­broidery, leather goods production and grocery/shop businesses. In fact, the rate of beedi-rolling in Pattur was reduced by 50 percent in 2006, to 10 percent of what it was five to six years earlier. Today, only 250 fami­lies earn their living through tobacco; the companies collecting beedis has dropped from five to three, and beedi smok­ing in Pattur is down 60 percent. The partners have also facilitated enforcement of laws against smoking in public places.

Total beneficiaries: approximately 2,000.

Russian Physicians to Advocate Against Smoking

CECHE and the Russian Cancer Research Center (RCRC), in partnership with the Moscow Public Health Department and the Moscow Medical Academy, are administering a program to educate, motivate and train Russian physicians to champion smoking cessation among their patients. Since late 2003, the comprehensive program has been conducting baseline surveys to assess the problem, sponsoring seminars in smoking-cessation counseling, and holding courses on tobacco-related health problems, control measures and dependence treatment.

As a result of the initiative, during 2005 and 2006, nearly 1,700 health professionals participated in 45 educational sessions conducted in 32 outpatient clinics and 10 hospitals in and around Moscow, and in the Nyzney Novgorod and Altay regions. Nine one-day training workshops have also been conducted in Moscow, and the Moscow and Altay regions, and approximately 800 copies of smoking-cessation guidelines for physicians have been distributed via workshops and medical bookstores. In addition, a Tobacco or Health educational training course for post-graduate students devoted to treating tobacco use and dependence was started at the Moscow Medical Academy in 2006 and continues to impact newcomers to the field.

Dr. Levshin holds an anti-smoking education class for Russian physicians.

Most heartening is that the number of smokers visiting RCRC’s smoking-cessation service following physicians’ recommendations has more than doubled, indicating that the quantity of knowledgeable and skilled tobacco-control clinicians has expanded in the Moscow area.

Tobacco Use and Control in Armenia

In July 2006, CECHE awarded a scholarship to Dr. Karine Manukyan, head of the Scientific-Research Group of the Institute of Molecular Biology at the National Academy of Sciences of Armenia, to prepare and present a paper at the 13th World Conference on Tobacco and Health in Washington, D.C. on July 12-15, 2006. Hosted by the UICC World Cancer Conference, the international forum was attended by more than 2,000 delegates from over 30 countries. The scholarship was also applied to conduct an assessment for CECHE on the status of tobacco control in Armenia, with emphasis on smoking prevalence in women.

Heavy smokers: Top 10 countries with highest smoking rates among men. Armenia ranks seventh, with a 62 percent male smoking rate. Source: The Tobacco Atlas, American Cancer Society, 2006.

Based on surveys and research, Dr. Manukyan, who is also chairwoman of Women for Green Way for Generations, submitted her report to CECHE in December 2006. The report was distributed via a tobacco-control list-serv to more than 3,000 subscribers from 52 countries; it was also posted on CECHE’s Web site and can be accessed at http://www.ceche.org/communications/armenia/armenia.html.

Discussed at length among Armenian professionals and policy makers, Manukyan’s findings stimulated new anti-tobacco activities in the country, including laws on tobacco control and a host of implementation strategies that are directly benefiting the Armenian public.

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