HYDERABAD: Perturbed over the death of his friend, who was addicted to tobacco, a Telangana government employee has dedicated his life to spreading the word about the ill-effects of tobacco consumption.
Maachana Raghunandhan, who has been carrying out an anti-tobacco campaign for the last two decades, gifts a handkerchief to anyone he finds smoking.
“This handkerchief is my gift to you. Now, you gift yourself by quitting smoking or consuming tobacco products,” he tells them.
“I had no true friends till I joined junior college. But I found a real friend in Deekshitutlu, who used to help me a lot. He was addicted to smoking and chewing tambaku. When his health deteriorated and he realised that death is impending, he made me promise him that I would spread awareness about the ill effects of using tobacco products,” Raghunandhan, a Deputy Tahsildar in the Enforcement Wing of the Civil Supplies Department in Mahbubnagar district, said. Till date, Raghunandhan is grateful to his friend who helped and supported him through his higher education.
“I will fulfill my promise,” he said.
Two years ago, when Raghunandhan was working in Yadadri district, he found a wallet with Rs 50,000 in an RTC bus. It belonged to a farmer, Maraiah of Motkur village. The honest official took the pains to trace him down and return the wallet to him, but he had his conditions — Raghunandhan told the farmer that he would have to quit smoking. This made Maraiah’s wife and children happy.
Raghunandhan recalled another incident wherein a tractor driver was holding the steering wheel with one hand and had a cigarette in the other. He lost control of the vehicle near Bhongir some years ago and fell into the Musi canal. More than 12 people died in the accident, Raghunandhan, who always reminds people of this tragedy, said.
“I always use public transport. Whenever I spot a smoker or a tobacco addict at a bus stand or in buses, I try to convince them to quit,” he said.
Once he spotted Venkatesh of Narayanpet looking all depressed. Venkatesh’s wife had left him due to his addiction to tobacco. Raghunandhan made him promise that he would quit smoking and later called up Venkatesh’s wife. The couple have been living happily ever since.
The National Resource Centre for Tobacco Control’s (NRCTC) Postgradute Institute of Medical Education and Research (PGIMER) complimented Raghunandhan’s efforts to make save people from tobacco addiction.
During the NRCTC meetings, the official suggested banning the use of tobacco in public places and ensure that the provisions of the Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products Act, 2003 (COTPA) are implemented strictly.