Delhi University is on a new mission — to banish the butt from the campus for good. A group of students, called the Tobacco-Free Brigade, are on the prowl, and making sure no one smokes within college campuses.
The group, comprising 15 members from every college, slaps a fine of Rs. 200 on whoever is spotted taking a drag in college premises. “The ex-Vice Chancellor, Deepak Pental had given orders that Delhi University should be a smoke-free zone. For this, every college was asked to appoint a nodal officer who is responsible for ensuring that the campus is tobacco-free. The officer cannot do this alone, and so is given the authority to appoint student volunteers,” says Gautam Biswakarma of World Lung Foundation, which organised a two-day anti-tobacco fest at Hansraj College recently.
The gang is proud of its mission. “I joined this brigade to create awareness and make my college tobacco-free. If we catch students for the first time, we give them a warning. If the same student is caught smoking again, we inform the nodal officer who then challans them. As a result of this, smoking in campus has come down drastically,” says Rohan Rai, 17, a first year Eco (Hons) student at Hansraj College.
“When the officer is not around, we cut a challan and submit the money to the nodal officer,” says 18-year-old Aakriti (who doesn’t use a last name), a squad member from Hansraj College. The money collected from the challan goes to the college account.
However, it’s a challenging task. “When we catch students and tell them about the side effects, we meet with very negative responses. They say things like ‘mind your own business’,” says Ramneet Kaur, 20, a member from the Hindu College. “But, there are times when we meet students who are willing to quit. We take them to doctors and rehabs,” she says. And, the board’s work doesn’t stop at fining and counselling. “We organise anti-tobacco street plays and cultural programmes, too,” says Aakriti.
Smoke-free universities in the US
University of North Carolina
Lock Haven University
Ball State University