Tobacco control advocates from across India gathered in the city on Wednesday to discuss the experiences of the first smoke-free city in the country.
The focus of the workshop is to protect non-smokers from the exposure to second-hand smoke and protect minors from accessing tobacco producers. Both these are comprehensively covered in the national tobacco control legislation - the Cigarette and Other Tobacco Products Act (COTPA), 2003.
As many as 35 participants from 12 states, comprising government and non-government organisations, attended the workshop and were trained in enforcing the legislation.
"In India, every year, more than 1.2 million people die of smoking and many more die from exposure to the smoke. The enormous challenge of India is that more than 5,500 children start tobacco use every day and become lifelong users. More than half of all tobacco users die from diseases caused by its use," said Dr Sonu Goel, assistant professor, School of Public Health, Post Graduate Institute of Medical Education and Research (PGIMER).
Hemant Goswami, chairperson of NGO Burning Brain Society, said, "We believe there is no place for tobacco in the future of Chandigarh or the country. Our vision for a tobacco-free society is about more than simply enforcing the law on smoking but planning towards the elimination of tobacco."
Dr Deepak Bakshi, state nodal officer, Chandigarh, said, "Chandigarh has become a pioneer in innovation and enforcement and we have removed hookah bars and are in the process of eliminating electronic cigarettes also."
Dr Rakesh Gupta, state nodal officer, Punjab, and Dr Rana J Singh of International Union against Tuberculosis and Lung Disease, New Delhi, also discussed their experiences.