District-level committee to be activated

Marking the ‘No Smoking Day' on Wednesday, the district administration sent out a strong smoking cessation message with a hope that the anti-smoking campaign will help many in the city kick the habit.

“We want people addicted to smoking and other tobacco products to realise the bane of consuming them and overcome their addiction,” Joint Collector Gaurav Uppal told a press conference on Wednesday.

He said as part of the decision to make the city a ‘tobacco-free' zone, the district administration would ensure strict implementation of the Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products (COPT) Act, 2003.

The public places identified by government under the COTP Act include amusement centres, cinema halls, restaurants, hotels, pubs, stadiums (closed area only), function halls, monuments, hospital buildings and health institutions, educational institutions, libraries, court buildings, public offices and public service vehicles.

Health hazard

Churning out alarming statistics on the health hazards caused due to smoking and tobacco consumption, he said they could cause oral cancer or other fatal lung and heart diseases. “Statistics prove that consumption of these harmful products in the long run leads to serious health problems. We want to take up an extensive campaign to educate the masses against this bane,” he maintained.

Dr. Uppal said a district-level committee formed on COPT in 2008 and which had been dysfunctional, would be activated to spread the word. With the Joint Collector as its chairman, the committee has 35 department heads as its members. The committee members have been given display boards and challan books to educate and if need be, slap penalty on law-breakers. Dr. Uppal said the committee would meet at least twice a month to review implementation of the Act.

Krishna District Medical and Health Officer Shalini Devi said: “The COPT Act prohibits sale of cigarettes and tobacco in other forms to ‘minors' but it is not being implemented.”

She said the mortality rate could be scaled down by preventing tobacco consumption. Speaking about passive smoking, she said pregnant women in the habit of cigarette-smoking or tobacco chewing must shun the habit to protect the foetus in the womb.

Incharge Sub-Collector D. Subbarao, Madhyapana Nishedha Committee's district unit member K. Venkateswara Rao, Central Council Member of Indian Dental Association K. Ajay Benarji and others were present.