Friday, December 6th, 2019

PUNJAB GOVERNMENT ADOPTS MULTIPRONGED STRATEGY FOR TOBACCO/ NICOTINE CONTROL : VINI MAHAJAN

VINI-MAHAJAN-INVC-NEWSINVC NEWS
Chandigarh, The Punjab government has adopted a multi pronged strategy for the control of tobacco and nicotine. This was revealed here today by the Principal Secretary Health Ms. Vini Mahajan while presiding over a state level coordination committee meeting. Ms. Mahajan said that necessary instructions have been sent to the officers at the district levels to ensure implementation of the   Punjab Tobacco Vends Fees Act & Punjab Street Vendors Scheme strictly in Punjab to limit the number of tobacco vendors and reduce the availability of tobacco to children & youth. Commissioner FDA cum Secretary Health Punjab Mr. Hussan Lal and Dr Usha Bansal Director Family Welfare and representatives of various stakeholder Departments, Deputy Commissioners and various NGOs were present. Ms. Vini Mahajan said that a coordinated effort from all departments was the essence of controlling the menace of tobacco and nicotine. She said it was the responsibility of every stakeholder department and civil society to create awareness about hazards of tobacco and implement the anti-tobacco/nicotine laws effectively. She also said that good practices of Punjab government in tobacco control have been hailed at various national and international fora. Punjab Government was awarded “World No Tobacco day” award last year. Appreciating the involvement and commitment of all government departments and other stake holders’ e.g. civil society and media, Ms. Mahajan said that special focus should be on protecting children and youth from tobacco abuse. She also disclosed that Punjab Street Vendors scheme 2016 has been notified by Department of Local Bodies to issue licenses to Tobacco vendors as per pre conditions suggested by Departments of Health and Excise & Taxation. The Punjab Tobacco Vends Fees Act would be implemented by the Department of Excise & Taxation. This would limit the number of tobacco vendors and reduce the availability of tobacco to children & youth. Mr. Hussan Lal said that the Food & Drug Administration Punjab has initiated various steps to curtail the sale of E-cigarettes. Punjab was the first State to declare E-cigarettes as unapproved drug and court cases have been launched against the violators. Scented & flavoured chewable tobacco has also been banned and Food Safety Officers have been instructed to take appropriate action under Food Safety & Standards Act of India. State Program Officer, National Tobacco Control Programme (NTCP), Dr Rakesh K Gupta highlighted various legislations, notifications, regulations dealing with tobacco and nicotine. He also shared the steps initiated by government of Punjab to control tobacco/nicotine menace. He told that Section 7 of The Punjab Street Vendors Scheme 2016 which says that an applicant for the street vending of Tobacco Products shall apply after fulfilling the conditions as specified by departments of  of Excise & Taxation and Health of Punjab. Representatives from the Finance Department assured that VAT would be increased on all tobacco products including bidis to make them unaffordable for children and poor to reduce prevalence. Dr. Rana J Singh from The International Union Against Tuberculosis And Lung Diseases, New Delhi said that Global Evidences show that with increase in taxation, revenue increases and thus it decreases the use of tobacco. He also said that though it is necessary to book the guilty but the approach adopted by the implementers should be more to generate awareness than collect challan money. Their sole purpose is not to punish the guilty alone but to work towards having deterrent effect and thereby reducing the tobacco use.

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