Efforts on for Tobacco-free generations : Kaul Singh Thakur
INVC NEWS New York, Health Minister Kaul Singh Thakur said the Himachal Pradesh Government was making all out efforts to implement National Tobacco Control Programme (NTCP) launched by the Government of India in its true spirit. He was speaking during a conference organized on tobacco control at Bloomberg in New York today. He said to achieve the goal of tobacco control as those envisaged under the NTCP, the State would build on progress achieved by expanding efforts in four key areas. The new partnerships would be formed with other stakeholders to ensure that provisions of tobacco control law were upheld. The State had created very successful government - civil society partnerships to support innovative initiatives which protect youth from harm from getting exposed to tobacco use. Secondly, the State Government would support implementation of the law-both through public education and rigorous enforcement. The Minister said the strategy of the State would be to develop tobacco-free generations. The educational institutions were particularly vulnerable to tactics of tobacco industry. It was must to ensure that a policy to exclude tobacco industry from public policy needs to be in place, and help eliminate the proliferation of tobacco industry near our homes and schools and workplace. He said the Government would continue to work on all aspects of tobacco control concertedly. Himachal Pradesh was declared smokefree in July 2013 and now efforts were being made to make Himachal the first fully-compliant state to all provisions of tobacco control law. Shri Kaul Singh Thakur said State Government had stepped up efforts to sustain the smokefree status of the state and stronger enforcement of ban on Tobacco advertisement and products without pack warnings. Recently, the State Government had banned the sale of single cigarette or bidi and process of drafting a comprehensive legislation that conforms with the recommendation and provisions of Article 5.3 of FCTC was under process. He said more than 21% adult population of the State use some form of tobacco. There were more smokers - nearly 880,000 of them in Himachal Pradesh, far more than tobacco chewers. These smokers expose several other people who do not use tobacco to harm of secondhand smoke. When the Government started tobacco control in earnest in Himachal Pradesh it was with the intent to protect non-smokers from the harms of tobacco smoke. Shri Thakur said that the State started its efforts with one district and just two years the entire state was smoke-free and in July, 2013 the state was declared smoke-free based on a compliance assessment survey conducted by independent organisations. He said efforts would be made to protect women and children from exposure to SHS at homes. The state had one of the highest literacy rates and mass media efforts of Government of India supported by the World Lung Foundation has started to make an impact. Global Adult Tobacco Survey(GATS 2009-10) has showed that Himachal Pradesh had the highest age of initiation (nearly 21 years), yet we need to focus on new initiations. Shri Kaul Singh Thakur thanked Mr. Michael Bloomberg, the Mayor for invitation and taking forward the battle against tobacco. He also invited him to visit Himachal Pradesh.