In a major blow to cigarette smokers in Rajasthan, the state government-owned electricity companies have decided not to offer jobs to people who either smoke cigarettes or chew tobacco products.
"A directive in this regard is expected to be issued soon," a source in the state energy department told IANS.
A state-level committee for tobacco control October 2012 recommended that no person should be offered a government job if he or she smokes or chews tobacco. A circular in this regard was issued November 2013, just before the assembly election, but some of the departments are yet to implement it.
Candidates seeking jobs in these electricity firms will first have to give an undertaking that he or she does not smoke or chew tobacco products.
NGOs meanwhile hailed the decision of the power companies.
"These kind of steps would certainly help in curbing smoking and chewing of tobacco," said Nitisha Sharma of Inaya Foundation, a Jaipur-based NGO.
Sharma, however, was of the view that more steps are needed on the lines of de-addiction centres for alcoholics, so that one can stop smoking or chewing tobacco.
She said there were almost negligible facilities to help tobacco users to quit the habit and there were no or few experts who can help these people quit this habit that causes cancer and kills hundreds of people every year in the country.
As per an estimate, tobacco causes 40 to 50% of all cancers in men and about 17-20% in women in India.