Staff Reporter

KOTTAYAM: Kottayam was declared the first tobacco-free district in the country on Saturday.

Making the official declaration, Minister for Public Works Mons Joseph hoped the district would be able to lead the nation in this regard.

The real challenge before the people was to keep a constant effort in keeping this position and not to slip back to old ways, he said. The district, which has many feathers to its cap in the areas of literacy, education and health should be able to achieve this, he said.

V N Vasavan MLA presided. K Suresh Kurup MP delivered the keynote address. Earlier, the march announcing the declaration was flagged off from Collectorate campus by District Collector P. Venugopal.