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Contest to push for tobacco-free mandals

If Ganesh mandals respond actively to this competition, there will be no banners advertising tobacco and cigarettes outside pandals this year.

mumbai Updated: Sep 09, 2010 02:24 IST
Aarefa Johari
Aarefa Johari
Hindustan Times

If Ganesh mandals respond actively to this competition, there will be no banners advertising tobacco and cigarettes outside pandals this year.

Smoke Free Mumbai (SFM), a campaign initiated by the Action Council against Tobacco — India, has tied up with the central Ganeshotsav coordinating committee to organise a ‘Smoke Free Ganesh Mandal’ competition.

Registered mandals will be judged on a set of tobacco-free guidelines and prizes will be awarded to the top three mandals actively promoting the anti-tobacco message.

The prize money for the winning mandal will range from ` 10,000 to ` 25,000. “Ganpati mandals are often sponsored by surrogate tobacco industry companies, and we hope this competition will discourage this,” said Dr Surendra Shastri, chairperson of the SFM Campaign.

The campaign was launched in February last year in partnership with the Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai, Tata Memorial Hospital and several other tobacco-control non-governmental organisations.

The basic rules for a mandal seeking to participate in the competition are no advertisements of tobacco-related products for 500 m around the pandal, no sale or usage of tobacco within 500 m of it and putting up large signboaords prohibiting smoking and explaining its health hazards.

Additional points would be given to mandals that initiate activities on the theme of tobacco control. “We are trying our best to urge mandals not to take sponsorship from tobacco companies even if they run short of funds,” said Naresh Dahibawkar, president of the Samanvay Samiti, the central coordinating committee for all mandals in the city. Only 20 mandals have signed up for the competition so far, and registrations are open till September 12.
Aarefa Johari

First Published: Sep 09, 2010 02:23 IST