High On Haze: Drugs And The City Campaigns, Impotency Fear Drive Youth Away From Gutkha
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Pune has been witnessing a trend of increasing addiction to drugs, alcohol and tobacco, even as voices condemning the trend have become louder and more effective. With youngsters forming a large segment of the city, it’s time for a focused look at the situation THERE is some good news on the gutkha front.
Thanks to relentless campaign on its bad effects – fear of impotency in particular–by anti–tobacco ac tivists, gutkha addiction has witnessed a considerable drop in the past few years in the city and the state. Leading the campaign, the city–based Sarvajeev Mangal Pratishthan found in surveys that gutkha addiction which had assumed alarming proportions around 10 years back, has come down considerably in recent years.
This, primarily is being attributed to mass campaigning by anti–tobacco activists in schools, colleges, offices, industries, villages and sports fields.
The main target of the anti–gutkha campaign had always remained the younger generation. "And we are glad our intensi fied campaign has paid rich dividends across the state," says Dr Kalyan Gangwal, founder–president of the Pratishtan.
It all began 14 years back when the Pratishthan was founded by Dr Gangwal with a vow to wean away the youth from gutkha. "During those days, gutkha con sumption was at its peak. At every corner, chowk, school and college gates, you came across youths holding packets of gutkha, " he recalls.
It was then the Pratishthan embarked on its cam paign among people from various sections of the society roping in even volunteers from the Swadhya Parivar, Brahmakumaris and Warkaris Sect. "The involvement of this section of volunteers was crucial to stop the guktha menace," says Gangwal. The campaign revolved around posters, lectures, exhibitions, health check–ups, dental examinations, evils of consuming gutkha. "It was relentless campaign address ing various sections of the society, but the primary target remained the younger generation," he says.
What weaned away the youths, from gutkha, says Gangwal, was the fact they began to realise that it leads to impotency.
"The younger generation was probably not much concerned about cancer or heart ailment, but they seem much shaken by the fact guktha consumption was leading to impotency. And this fear ultimately led to youths shunning it on a large scale," he ning it on a large scale," he s says.
Gangwal says compared to the past, today there " is much awareness about the dangers of gutkha and tobacco addiction. s He, however, regrets that the state government c could not imposethe ban on gutkha. "The Supreme Court had to lift the ban because a the state government sought the ban on the basis of adulteration of gutkha. However, the Supreme Court pointed out that the adulteration was a cen g tral government subject and does not fall in the state s government purview," he says."