Staff shortage hits tobacco control programme in Pune - Hindustan Times
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Staff shortage hits tobacco control programme in Pune

ByVicky Pathare
Feb 27, 2024 06:12 AM IST

DCC is functioning with only three people—a programme manager, a psychologist, and a social worker to implement the programme across the Pune district

Despite a reported increase in tobacco consumption among school kids and teenagers, the acute shortage of staff has affected the National Tobacco Control Programme (NTCP) in the Pune district. The Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products Act (COTPA) 2003 rules remain largely ineffective as the District Coordination Committee (DCC) responsible for implementing the rule is functioning with just three people, the officials said.

The number of deaths every year in India which is attributed to tobacco use is almost eight to nine lakhs, officials said. (REPRESENTATIVE PIC)
The number of deaths every year in India which is attributed to tobacco use is almost eight to nine lakhs, officials said. (REPRESENTATIVE PIC)

The DCC for the NTCP has the responsibility to implement COTPA 2003 as per which, smoking, consumption of tobacco and tobacco products, and spitting is prohibited in government, semi-government, private offices, and hotels amongst other public places.

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However, the DCC is functioning with only three people—a programme manager, a psychologist, and a social worker to implement the programme across the Pune district.

An official from DCC on anonymity, said, it is difficult to implement the COTPA 2003 and make educational institutes tobacco-free with such a short staff.

“There are over 7,000 schools and colleges in Pune district and over a lakh of shops selling tobacco products. This task is almost impossible to achieve unless more staff is provided. To conduct a raid we need to write to the Police and FDA who as per availability provide staff to take squad action. Squad action as per the COPTA 2003 is severely limited due to the lack of staff and cooperation from the Police and FDA,” said, the official.

The number of deaths every year in India which is attributed to tobacco use is almost eight to nine lakhs, officials said.

This year (April 2023–March 2024), the district coordination committee aims to make 416 schools and 20 universities tobacco-free. However, due to a staff shortfall, only 150 schools and 20 colleges claim to have gone tobacco-free.

Dr Jayshree Saraswat, programme manager for district NTCP, said, “Till March end we will try to complete the target given by the government to us. Till February end around 250 schools will be completed and the remaining will be completed in March. However, if we are provided with more staff the COTPA rules can be more effectively implemented.”

Dr Nagnath Yempalay, district civil surgeon and nodal office for the programme in the district, assured to look into the issue.

“In past, we have brought this to the notice of the government. We will again write to the government requesting to provide more staff for the programme,” he said.

To quit Tobacco use call helpline 1800112356 or visit the Tobacco Cessation Centre at Aundh District Hospital.

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