Chandigarh : 25 September : The First virtual National Conference on Tobacco or Health (NCTOH) attracts 50+ Experts and 500+ Delegates. It was organized in Dept of Community Medicine and School of Public Health, PGIMER, Chandigarh as a curtain-raiser to the main NCTOH next year.It is a first-of-its-kind two-day virtual “5th National Conference on Tobacco or Health” organized by Resource Centre for Tobacco Control, PGIMER Chandigarh in collaboration with The Union South-East Asia (The Union) & WHO Country Office, India and under the guidance of Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW), Govt of India

Dr Rana J Singh, Deputy Regional Director, The UNION (SEA), New Delhi and Joint organising secretary welcomed the delegates and experts of the conference. Sh. Vikas Sheel (IAS), Joint Secretary, MOHFW, Govt. of India, the Chief Guest for the occasion congratulated the organizers PGIMER, Chandigarh which is an institute of national importance and medical excellence along with The Union South-East Asia and WHO for taking the lead and sticking firmly to its commitment of organizing the 5th National Conference on Tobacco or Health (NCTOH) in these unprecedented times of COVID-19. He told the theme of the conference “Multi-sectoral convergence for Tobacco-Free India by 2030: Leading the way towards SDGs” itself states the purpose, vision and mission of the tobacco control fraternity. He also affirmed that this virtual conference would boost tobacco control efforts as it is an agglomeration of decision-makers, implementers and academicians from different states across the country under one roof for sharing contextual experiences and best practices in tobacco control which will ultimately lead to advancing tobacco control in the country.

Other dignitaries including Prof. K. Srinath Reddy, President, Public Health Foundation of India (PHFI),New Delhi, India, Dr G D Puri, Dean Academics, PGIMER, Dr Parkash Gupta, Director, Healis - Sekhsaria Institute for Public Health, Mumbai, Dr.Sanjay Rai, President, Indian Public Health Association, India, graced the inaugural Ceremony and put light on the theme of the conference. This was followed by the release of Tobacco Free Times – 9th Edition and Launch of the promotional video of onsite 5th NCTOH scheduled in the year 2021. Lastly, the ceremony ended with the vote of thanks delivered by Dr Mahesh Devnani, Associate Professor and JMS, Dept. of Hospital Administration, PGIMER, Chandigarh.

A total of 4 technical sessions were scheduled on the first day. The Plenary session on Multi-Sectoral Convergence was the first session chaired by Sh. Vikas Sheel, IAS, Joint Secretary, MoHFW, Govt of India, Prof. K. Srinath Reddy, President, Public Health Foundation of India and Prof. Harshad Thakur, Director, NIHFW. Eminent speakers including Mrs. Jyoti Bainda, Chairman, Haryana State Commission for Protection of Child Rights (HCPCR), Govt of Haryana, Mr. Prabodh Kumar, IPS. Special DGP, Govt. of Punjab, Mr. Pranay Lal, Senior Technical Advisor, The Union, SEA, Mr Rajeev Sadanandan, CEO of Tata Trust-funded Health Systems Transformation Platform (HSTP) and Kerala CM's adviser on COVID-19 and Dr Sanjiv Kumar, Chair, Advisory Committee, Indian Alliance of Patients Group Chair, Indian Academy of Public Health deliberated on the mechanisms of integration of tobacco control into other health and development agendas.

This was followed by the panel discussion on Stopping Tobacco Industry Interference organized by PHFI. This session included five panelists highlighting historical developments by defining TII - challenges and progress in India, existing policy/administrative measures in India to counter TII, monitoring TII, State protocol to stop TII making a change on the ground level and Role of healthcare professionals in addressing conflict of interest issues and avoiding industry-supported events. This session was chaired by Prof Ravi Mehrotra, CEO India Cancer Research Consortium, India and Dr Dhirendra Sinha, Independent Consultant, India.

The third session for the day was an oral presentation chaired by Dr. L. Swasticharan, Additional Deputy Director-General of Health Services, NTCP, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Government of India and Dr. Suneela Garg, National President (Elect) IAPSM in which 10 presenters selected from the rigid selection process were allocated 5 minutes for presenting their work. This was followed by the last technical session Tobacco Control – Regional Perspective of Bangladesh and Maldives was shared with the audience. Overall both the sessions were interesting and displayed the multiple exertions going in the field of tobacco. The day ended with an interesting quiz and feedback session.