World No Tobacco Day

Students and youth from various schools and institutions in Rishikesh rallied for the cause of saying No to Tobacco and Yes to Health and Life. The children created anti-tobacco slogans, and crafted beautiful posters to help spread the message that smoking is harmful and deadly to their peers and members of the community. The rallying and enthusiastic youth came to Pujya Swami Chidanand Saraswatiji and Sadhvi Bhagawati Saraswatiji, to Parmarth Niketan (Rishikesh), at the start of the rally to seek their inspiration, guidance and blessings on their tenacious efforts.

Pujya Swamiji shared some terrifying statistics with the assembled group and millions of listeners around the world: “Worldwide 8 million people tobacco related deaths and some 1.2 million in India alone. Therefore, remember that Tobacco kills. People understand tobacco’s effects on lungs, but not everyone thinks of its effects on the heart. Did you know that close to 6.5 trillion cigarettes are sold each year…18 billion each day…and, more than 1 billion people are spoiling their health by consuming them. India produces 10 billion cigarettes, and consumes 50 – 72 million kg of tobacco in various forms!”

He shared that one of the most popular forms is ghutka, a chewing tobacco preparation made of crushed areca nut, tobacco, catechu, paraffin wax, slaked lime and sweet or savory flavorings, that is being eaten by Indian youth in overwhelming amounts. Studies show that these youth are consuming the equivalent of 40 cigarettes – two packs – each and every day, and that this growing addiction is contributing to a rise in the incidences of throat, lung, kidney, bladder, pancreatic and stomach cancer.

Pujya Swamiji also discussed the effects of passive smoking. “People remain unaware of the passive effects of smoking. In the household, other people’s smoking affects family members. We can say that by avoiding tobacco, we can secure the lives of the entire family. If we love life, then we must stop and say no to tobacco!”

Pujya Sadhviji shared, “Why do we eat food? Because it tastes good…it smells good…it makes us feel good. But why do we smoke? What’s the flavor of tobacco? What’s the taste of tobacco? What flavor is it that makes us want to do harm to our body? We must learn that we can no longer harm our body as the body is the first temple. Let us keep the body clean and free from pollution.”

After the children were awarded for the best slogans and paintings, Pujya Swamiji and Pujya Sadhviji distributed Rudraksha saplings to them, and shared that the oxygen generated by the trees adds to the planet’s and our health. Pujya Swamiji concluded by asking each of them to commit to spreading the message about the harmful effects of tobacco and smoking. “One person can motivate ten to eleven other people with a simple resolution to boycott tobacco. With this live broadcast, we are motivating millions around the world. Choose life, not Tobacco.”

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