The Department of Public Health on Tuesday launched the Smoke-Free Chennai project in association with the International Union Against Tuberculosis (UNION), Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids, World Lung Federation and Bloomberg Initiative to control use of tobacco.
The programme aims at promoting effective tobacco control policies; training a new generation of managers and practitioners; supporting effective intervention programmes through grants; and building knowledge for action through research, according to Nevil Wilson, Director, The UNION. He said that Tamil Nadu, which is already performing well in the area of tobacco control, is an inspiration for the country and the world. Speaking on the occasion, Principal Secretary, Health, V.K. Subburaj, said tobacco usage caused one lakh deaths in the State every year. In addition, it caused cancer and sterility, he added.
Chennai Mayor M. Subramaniam launched the media campaign during the function. He said in the last four months, Chennai had collected over Rs.1.47 lakh as fine from those smoking in public places and Rs.61,400 from retailers stocking tobacco products in violation of the laws. In addition, one lakh sachets of tobacco products were seized in two months and all advertisements for tobacco products removed in the Chennai area.
A special cover was released by M.S. Ramanujan, Postmaster General, Chennai City to mark the launch of the project. Health Minister M.R.K. Panneerselvam released a handbook for health workers and gave away awards to the top performers in tobacco control in the State. The top four performers, in terms of fines collected, are Chennai, Tuticorin, Dindigul and Villupuram.
S. Elango, Director of Public Health, was presented the Lifetime Achievement Award for his activities in tobacco control by the UNION.