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HT Correspondent HT Correspondent , Hindustan Times
Chandigarh, October 10, 2013
A three-day conference on tobacco control concluded here on Thursday.

The tobacco control advocates from 12 states of India gathered in the city to discuss the smoke-free status of Chandigarh. Harman Sidhu, chairperson of NGO Arrive Safe, was honoured for his defiance of the tobacco industry.

Sidhu, who through his NGO raised awareness on road safety and alcohol abuse, spoke about the award he was given by a tobacco company in July 2013, which he later returned.
Sidhu was felicitated by Dr Rana J Singh, senior technical adviser, International Union against Tuberculosis and Lung Diseases.

Dr L Swasticharan, chief medical officer, union ministry of health and family welfare was also present on this occasion.

Dr Rakesh Gupta, state nodal officer, Punjab, said, "The fight is being taken to the tobacco industry very seriously and more and more jurisdictions will go smoke-free and Punjab will become a smoke-free state in the near future."

Tobacco control continues to face challenges from the tobacco industry as it threatens to use its massive public relations and communications budget to derail any efforts made to reduce tobacco use. "The tobacco industry is deceptive and powerful and the little funds dedicated to tobacco control need to be sustained with more human and financial resources," said Ali Mohammad Mir of Jammu and Kashmir Voluntary Health Association.

Dr Deepak Bakshi, in-charge, UT Tobacco Control Cell, said, "The National Tobacco Control Programme will expand to all states in the next five-year plan and this will provide necessary impetus to tobacco control. We hope to reverse the growing trend of tobacco use across India."