Moga has become the first district in the state to take steps to form anti-tobacco clubs in government schools to make students aware of ill-effects of tobacco products and check their use among the youngsters.
Heads of as many as 252 schools — 67 senior secondary, 86 high, 87 middle, 2 Adarsh and aided schools — in the district have been directed to form Children Against Tobacco (CAT) clubs.
On the directions of deputy commissioner Parminder Singh Gill, district education officer (DEO) Baldev Singh has sent letters to all the 252 government schools in this regard and directed the heads to form the clubs within two weeks.
As per the information, each club would comprise 30-40 schoolchildren above 12 years’ of age and two teachers will be appointed as coordinators.
The club members will educate other students about the ill-effects of the tobacco products by holding seminars and will get training from time to time.
Any student found consuming tobacco or smoking will be counseled by the teachers and his or her parents will be taken into confidence.
Rachhpal Singh, spokesperson of health and family welfare department, Moga, said school authorities have started forming the clubs. “So far the clubs have been established in 27 schools of the district. They will be in place in all the institutions within two weeks,” he said.
Moga civil surgeon Dr Jajbir Singh Sandhu said as per the Global Adult Tobacco Survey (GATS) of 2009-10, the average age of tobacco initiation was 17.8 years. “Through this initiative, we want to ensure that students keep themselves at bay from this bad habit,” he said.
Sandhu said as per a study, approximately 2,500 people were dying daily due to tobacco use and 5,500 fresh consumers get added every day.