Aiming at a smoke-free Delhi by 2009, Delhi Government has finally decided to put its act together. It has entered into a collaboration with Johns Hopkins University to check nicotine levels in the air and has tied up with Bloomberg Initiative, which is a fund created by various NGOs to enable countries curb tobacco use.
The Johns Hopkins University has promised 160 nicotine-monitoring devices free of cost, which will be positioned in strategic locations in the Capital.
Professor Dr Jonathan Sonnet from the Department of Epidemiology at Johns Hopkins University was in India in January earlier this year when he proposed the tie-up.
“This is an essential step in measuring level of nicotine pollution in different public places - auditoriums, stadiums, government offices, cinema halls, malls, etc,” said Dr RP Vashist, the Directorate of Health Services.
Dr Vashist, who is coordinating the project, said so far the government does not have any baseline data to assess the present levels of nicotine pollution.
“This will help us in setting up a blue print of the project which we further intend to initiate to curb tobacco use,” he added.
The Delhi Government has also been assured funds to the tune of approximately US $ 400,000 in a span of two years by the Bloomberg Initiative.
“We will run the project with functional and technical support from participating NGOs within the framework of Bloomberg Initiative,” said Dr Vashist. Alongside, the World Lung Foundation shall provide monetary and technical support.
“We are aiming at enforcing of existing laws, educating the masses and building strategic partnership with the civil society,” he added. The project is expected to come into force by May this year.
The Union, a partner with Bloomberg Initiative, has promised high-end technical support. “We intend to assist the Delhi government in drafting appropriate laws, preparing awareness drives and advertisement campaigns, nicotine monitoring and reporting violations,” said Dr Nevin Wilson, Director, International Union against Lung and TB Diseases, Delhi based wing of the Union.
“We are also assisting the government in creating sensitisation drives to support anti-tobacco specific interventions as prescribed by the World Health Organisation (WHO). Centre for Disease Control (CDC) and Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids are also participating in the programme,” Dr Wilson added.