A PGI study has found that SAS Nagar is the first smoke-free district in Punjab.
According to a study conducted by the PGI's School of Public Health in association with the State Tobacco Cell, Punjab, Generation Saviour Association, SAS Nagar, and the International Union Against Tuberculosis and Lung Disease, New Delhi, 94% public places in SAS Nagar didn't show any evidence of smoking.
Aimed to assess public support for smoke-free initiatives undertaken in SAS Nagar, the study was conducted in December. Under the study, 171 public places of three blocks - SAS Nagar, Dera Bassi and Kharar - were randomly selected on the basis of their development.
Different categories of public places like educational institutes, offices, health institutes, transit sites and hotels and restaurants were observed for several weeks.
“The overall compliance rate in all selected places of the community development blocks was between 88 and 100%. It can be reasonably stated that all public places in SAS Nagar district are smoke-free based on the operational definition and parameters selected from the study,” the study observed.
The study also found that “No smoking” sign - which is mandatory under the Cigarettes and other Tobacco Products Act (COTPA) - was also displayed at 91% public places. It also found that smoking aids like matchbox and ashtray were also found missing at 98.8% places.
Another interesting parameter to assess smoking, which was adopted by the study team, was to notice the smell of tobacco smoke in the air. According to that indicator, no smoke was found at 94.4% places.
Going by the study, the Punjab government is likely to declare SAS Nagar as the first smoke-free district of the state.
“SAS Nagar will be projected as a role model for other districts,” said Dr Sonu Goel, assistant professor, School of Public Health, PGI, who conducted the study.
Second-hand smoke is the only reason why smoking in public place is an alarming health hazard. The government had enacted the COTPA in 2005, which prohibits smoking at public places, bans advertisement of tobacco products and prescribes pictorial health warnings on tobacco products. Any one found smoking at a public place can be fined by a notified officer, including the in charge of the premises.