Anti-tobacco drives begin in Kashmir, COPTA violators fined
Post by M Peerzada on Thursday, June 8, 2023
Srinagar, June 07: The Tobacco Control Cell of Directorate of Health Services Kashmir on Wednesday launched a massive enforcement of National Tobacco Control Programme (NTCP) and Cigarette and Other Tobacco Products Act (COTPA) 2003 in the valley.
Dr Mir Mushtaq, State Nodal Officer, NTCP, said the ant-tobacco drive has been launched in all the districts in Kashmir and COTPA violators have been fined.
“During the enforcement drives, various street vendors and shopkeepers selling cigarettes and other tobacco products in violation of the COTPA Act were fined,” he said.
On the first day of the drive, scores of violators were fined on the spot and thousands of rupees was collected as fine besides offenders were also counselled on the spot.
“There is a need for enforcement. Tobacco is putting a huge economic burden on people and it has health hazards associated. Such drives will limit the prevalence of smoking,” he said.
“Tobacco is a known health hazard and is responsible for many diseases prevalent in society, particularly various cancers, cardiac diseases and many more,” Mir said.
On June 05, the directorate issued an order following the instructions of Secretary Health & Medical Department J&K issued on eve of the World No Tobacco day.
“All CMOs are requested to monitor the said activity personally and submit the action taken report to this directorate on a daily basis,” the order said.
Pertinently, the health department under National Tobacco Control Programme has launched the Tobacco Free Village Initiative, Tobacco Free Youth Initiative & Tobacco Free Educational Intuitions initiative in J&K on this year’s World No Tobacco Day.
The Nodal Officer also said it needs a multi-pronged strategy of different individuals, organizations and departments to coordinate and arrive at a comprehensive policy to defeat this grave issue which is going to have serious consequences if they fail to control it.
“Such drives will continue in coming days and we are very strict this time and people also need to cooperate to limit the tobacco burden,” he said.
The anti-tobacco drives, the teams of the health department are focused on educational institutions and implement all the sections and sub-sections of COTPA 2003.
“School education is the main target area. We have held many meetings with the School Education and Higher Education Department. In a year we may have all schools in the valley smoking-free. The health department is holding activities under Tobacco Free Educational Institutions (ToFEI) in schools across the valley,” he said.
According to a provision in the COPTA Act, sale of tobacco or related products are banned within 100 metres of educational institutes. As per the Act, the selling of loose cigarettes is prohibited but these are sold openly in markets even to minors.
Notably, J&K is the sixth state in India to have high prevalence of tobacco users as over 20 percent of the population is indulging in tobacco consumption.
In 2021, a survey conducted by the Union Health Ministry had revealed that Kashmir spends a whopping Rs 600 cr on the purchase of tobacco products annually.