Two years after the state capital was declared smoke-free, the Himachal Pradesh government declared the entire state as “smoke free” on Tuesday.
“The state has been declared smoke-free in compliance with Section 4 of the Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products Act (COTPA), 2003, in a technical and scientific survey done by the department of community medicine, IGMC, Shimla and Population Research Centre of Himachal Pradesh University,” said health minister Kaul Singh Thakur at a function organised here by the Himachal Pradesh Voluntary Health Association (HPVHA).
“Himachal Pradesh is the second hill state after Sikkim which has been made smoke-free. However, the focus now should be to make homes completely smokeless,” he said while signing a declaration in making the state smoke-free.
He said in Himachal Pradesh, more than 2,500 panchayats of the state had complied with the provisions of COTPA and at present 93% compliance of the Act had been ensured by the education department followed by 91% compliance by the health department and 87% by the transport department, which indicated that initiatives of the state government to eradicate smoking and intake of tobacco-related products had been fruitful.
Besides, 57 development blocks of the state has also passed resolutions of their blocks being smoke-free.
“He said rural folks areas believe that intake of tobacco products are part of their routine and help to keep them warm during winters, but actually their myth is to be broken and they are to be made aware that as many as 2,500 people die of intake of tobacco-related products and alcohol every day,” he added.
“The need of the hour is to educate and create awareness among the rural masses of the state and aware them of the ill-effects of consuming tobacco-related products, then only we can claim of making the state totally smokeless,” he maintained.
Thakur said the state government was committed to eradicate tobacco-related products from the state and in the 2013-14 budget, the government had enhanced the tax on bidis from existing 11% to 22% and on cigarettes, the tax was increased from 18 to 36%.
The minister said Bilaspur, Mandi and Shimla districts had ensured 92% compliance of the Act which needed to be enhanced to 100%. He also lauded the efforts of HPVHA, International Union and the Department of Community Medicine, IGMC, for initiating the measures to make the state smoke-free.
He said health indices in the state were far better from the rest of the country, but there was always a scope of its improvement. More was required to be done and preventive measures to be adopted to make the state totally smokeless. He added that the data so provided would prove realistic only if people voluntarily give up tobacco-related products and realised the ill-effects of smoking.
The minister also gave away prizes to the departments who contributed in compliance with Section 4 of COTPA. Srinivas Joshi, consultant, HPVHA, gave detailed presentation pertaining to initiatives taken by the association and revealed that as per survey, 31% of children die due to Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) in the country because of passive smoking.
He said 2.8% children start smoking before 15 years, 25.6 % between 15 and 17 years, 21.5% between 18 and 19 years and 59.8% between 22 and 34 years in the country. He said the resolve of HPVHA since its existence in 1987 was to eradicate smoking completely from public places. However, in 2013 the state has done well and achieved compliance of 85.42% as per COPTA.