The Madhya Pradesh directorate of public instructions on Friday instructed government school teachers to sign self-declarations, saying that they would not use tobacco or tobacco products during school hours.
The initiative, which is not mandatory, is to encourage teachers to give up their tobacco habits and set a good example for the students, said Dhirendra Chaturvedi, the joint director of the directorate.
“We have instructed government school teachers to avoid consuming tobacco or tobacco products at least during their working hours,” he said.
“The initiative would help in discouraging use of tobacco among school children. The move was to make school premises tobacco-free.”
According to the Global Adult Tobacco Survey — a school-based survey conducted in 137 countries — everyday more than 330 children take up smoking or use tobacco products in Madhya Pradesh.
The WHO report on Global Tobacco Report, 2015, has expressed concern on the rising trend of tobacco use among children and its harmful effects.
According to the official order, district education officers have been instructed to collect the self-declaration letters of teachers from the school principals and submit them to the directorate by November 7, 2015.
Mukesh Sinha of Madhya Pradesh Voluntary Health Association said there was a greater need to put more stress on eradicating tobacco use in the state. “The National Tobacco Consumption Programme is restricted to 16 districts in the state. This should be expanded to all the districts, he said.
“The government is not very serious in implementing tobacco-free school campaigns in the state and as a result tobacco products are easily available near school premises.”
Despite the ban on sale of tobacco products near educational institutes, it continues in gross violation of the norms, he said.
The school education department had issued several directives in the past to restrict sale and tobacco use near school premises but the initiatives did not prove fruitful.
State minister for school education Deepak Joshi had announced that discipline committees would be formed by students in schools to keep a check on tobacco use.
In April 2013, the school education department had declared schools of Bhopal as “tobacco free zones”, stressing that people found using tobacco within 300 ft of the schools, would be fined `200.
School principals were entrusted with the task of enforcing the directive strictly and were asked to identify shops selling tobacco near schools.