A unique volunteer force spread mass awareness about health hazards of tobacco
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Sambandh Health Foundation, Gurgaon, India
Publication date: 2021-09-02
Corresponding author
Manish Kumar Bhartia   

Sambandh Health Foundation, Guwahati, Gurgaon, India
Tob. Induc. Dis. 2021;19(Suppl 1):A249
In Assam, India, Tobacco consumption in the last 7 years increased to 48% from 39%. Efforts to bring awareness about the harm has failed to transcend to ground level, thereby, dying down before reaching the last mile. An idea to involve students was taken up with the aim to mobilize College and School students to create a strong volunteer force through sensitization who acted as foot soldiers to sensitize the community including woman folks who otherwise remain mostly confined to their households, and thereby, remaining oblivious of the facts.

To bring mass awareness in the grass root level about harmful effects of all forms of tobacco

In Assam, India, in the year 2018 a pilot campaign was launched by organizing sensitization workshop for Program Officers (Head Teachers) and Volunteers of National Service Scheme (NSS) Unit of the State working in various Universities and affiliated colleges. Voice of Tobacco Victims (VoTV), a campaign led by doctors and cancer survivors played a significant role in the program. The intervention included activities like anti tobacco pledge and other programs such as Wall magazine, Poster competition, mass rally, community outreach through special camps etc. on the theme of ‘Tobacco Free youth’.

Total of 2000 active volunteers in six months, 600 anti-tobacco activities, 22000 hours of volunteer work, 75000 people sensitized

Such volunteer forces, if mobilized right from the vulnerable ages, can bring about social reforms in the society, especially, Assam where prevalence of tobacco consumption increased in the last 7 years. Anti-tobacco activities at regular intervals are highly recommended given the fact that it instills a sense of self discipline among the students who on the other hand can convey the message to their parents and other family members and it is seen that the words shared by the wards highly impact their parent’s thought process.

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