Gutka is highly addictive and its excessive and regular intake may lead to oral or pharyngeal cancer. Most people who have this addiction are young people from the lower-economic strata,” says Ratnakar Sahoo, a student, who has been active in the movement against tobacco consumption in Odisha for the last two years. This second-year student of Jayadev Institute of Social Science and Research at Bhubaneswar is a member of Nasha Mukti Yuva Sankalp, a youth organisation fighting for a total prohibition of addictives.
Says Ratnakar, “According to Section 2 of the Food Safety and Standards Act, no product containing tobacco or nicotine should be sold, but that is hardly followed by any one here.” Ratnakar along with other members of Sankalp has been organising street plays and awareness camps across Bhubaneswar.
At the last World No Tobacco Day, Ratnakar and his friends had organised counselling sessions at various colleges and schools for students, who they feel, are the primary victims of tobacco abuse. “Since working with Nasha Mukti Yuva Sankalp offers the practical experience that I require in my field, I devote more time to it. Besides, it’s a great learning experience,” he says.