United Stand against Public Smoking

Students taking the pledge against tobacco useEfforts are on to incorporate the harms of tobacco use and the legal measures to control its use in the revised school curriculum. Tobacco control lessons will be included in the revised textbooks of standards 1 to 12 to create awareness among children on this hazardous health issue, said Shri A Shajahan, Secretary, General Education, Government of Kerala here today.

Directions have been given to all schools to ensure that there is no sale of tobacco products around 100 yards, he said while speaking on the topic ‘Implementation of smoke-free rules in educational institutions’ in the event organised by Tobacco Free Kerala to highlight the importance of collective and multi-sectoral efforts to fight public smoking.

Shri A Hemachandran, Addl. Director General of Police said that even though are laws governing tobacco use and agencies such as police to enforce them, the important thing however is to keep away from such vices without any external compulsion.

The law prohibits sale of tobacco products around 100 yards of and educational institution and it prevents sale of tobacco products to and by minors. “This provision should not be translated to mean that tobacco sales to persons above 18 or beyond the prescribed area limit is all right,” he said while speaking on the topic ‘Creating tobacco free educational institutions – Role of Police.’

“Most often children are attracted to smoking following the misconception that it is a sign of smartness. Smartness is not about giving in to temptations and acquiring unhealthy habits but rather acquiring the ability to say no.  Good and healthy practices acquired during childhood remain forever and moulds the way one shapes up as an adult,” the ADGP said even while calling upon students to emerge as worthy examples for adults to emulate.

Ace film producer Shri G Suresh Kumar said that he could not completely refute the allegation that films propel youngsters to smoking. “Onscreen smoking often tempts many students. I and my wife have been raising our voices against the excessive display of smoking and drinking scenes in some new generation films.”

Shri Kumar also administered the pledge, in which more than 250 adolescent school students vowed against using tobacco products besides dissuading others from doing so.

Shri AS Pradeep Kumar, Addl. Director of Health Services, GoK said that studies have shown that though 60 per cent of smokers want to quit, only 2-3 per cent are able to due to its addictive nature. He also described in detail Section 4 of India’s tobacco control law, COTPA, 2003 that prohibits smoking in public places including educational institutions, hospital buildings and hotels.

Dr PG Balagopal, Associate Professor, Regional Cancer Centre said that in Kerala over 55 per cent of cancers among males and over 20 per cent of cancers in females are caused due to tobacco use.  Smt Menaka Suresh, actress and producer, exhorted students to discourage any smoking habits among family members. “Cigarette smoking or drinking is not stylish,” she said and encouraged students to take up healthy practices such as yoga and meditation.

Smt Ushakumari V, Headmistress, SMV HSS spoke. Video documentaries of tobacco induced cancer victims were also shown on the occasion.

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