Leh: High consumption of tobacco and alcohol has turned out to be a new enemy of Indian Army. Defence personnel consumption of tobacco and alcohol at high altitudes has set alarm bells ringing for the government.

The force has decided to curtail the consumption of these products among its men in areas like Karu, Leh, Siachen and western Ladakh.

"It has been decided to ban guthka sale inside the Army cantonment in higher altitudes and troops here will be advised to cut down on alcohol consumption when at any social gathering," Major General K M Balsara, General Officer

Commanding - Trishul, 3rd Infantry Division, said.

This was decided in a two-day seminar titled 'Highland Panacea on lifestyle diseases' held for the first time in cloudburst-hit Karu region in Ladakh last month.

"Guthka and alcohol consumption is high among our troops located in higher altitude, thus becoming a cause of many diseases. For their disease-free-future, we need to sensitise
them about how to lead a healthy lifestyle, especially when in higher altitudes. That is why it has been decided upon to curtail the consumption of these items among our men," he

Colonel I V S Gahlot, Colonel Medical - Three Infantry Division in Karoo region, said, "We have found that those residing in altitudes as high as 11,000 to 18,000 feet too are being diagnosed with lifestyle diseases. Obesity, heart disease, hypertension, diabetes, cancer and chronic obstructive lung diseases among Army and civil population are becoming quiet common here now." "Alcohol and guthka consumption is high among our troops over the years. This has happened because consumption of alcohol is a culture in the Army and most of our troops are from rural background where guthka consumption is rampant," he

The Three Infantry Division had carried out relief and rescue operations in this area after a cloudburst had caused flash flood and mudslide that resulted in devastation.

"The higher altitude air is too cold. Rare oxygen presence and decreased physical activity is adding to the unhealthy lifestyle. It is affecting the oral hygiene and also discourages exercise among troops. As such we have decided to increase the consumption of fruits rich in fibre," Lieutenant Colonel Dennis Abraham, Director Health, said.