Tobacco use has declined by about 24% in Himachal: Officials

Use of tobacco has reduced by about 24 per cent in Himachal Pradesh and it has been ranked 6th in terms of decline in tobacco use in the country, additional chief secretary (health) B K Agarwal said today.

Releasing the Global Adult Tobacco Survey (GATS) Report of Himachal Pradesh, he said that complete control over tobacco was a daunting task as it is one of the most heavily used addictive product.

“We can reduce its (tobacco) use with substantial efforts and will continue our efforts to reduce its use,” the officer said on World No Tobacco Day .

The first phase of the GATS survey was conducted in 2009-10, under the supervision of the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, while its second phase lasted till 2017-end.

The survey was conducted in 30 different states and Himachal Pradesh has recorded a remarkable decline in tobacco use, he said.

The officer said it was still a matter of concern that tobacco production has not been successfully reduced. There is a need to make the masses aware that tobacco has devastating harmful effects on health, he said.

“We also need to spread knowledge about the solution to reduce deaths and diseases caused by tobacco consumption and the health and police departments, and NGOs and Panchayati Raj Institutions are continuously working to spread awareness,” Agarwal said.

He said that 1.30 lakh people were penalised for smoking in public and a fine Rs 1.50 crore was collected.

This would be spent on Tobacco Control Programmes in the state, the officer said.

He said that the aim of the state government is to make the Secretariat and Himachal Pradesh University campuses completely tobacco free.

Giving a detailed presentation on the GATS report Dr Alok Ranjan, from Mumbai-based Tata Institution of Social Sciences, said that 16 per cent of people in Himachal Pradesh are consuming tobacco against 28.6 per cent in the country.

Tobacco damages every organ of our body and a large number of people are consuming beedi and around 70 lakh people die every year from tobacco use worldwide, he said.

State Program Officer Dr Gopal Chauhan gave a detailed presentation on the progress made in tobacco control.

He said that the goal is to bring down the number of people consuming tobacco below 10 per cent in the state.

The use of beedi and cigarettes in public places is totally prohibited in the state and violators are fined. Sale of tobacco products within 100 meters of educational institutions has been prohibited, officials said.

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