Himachal’s Health Minister Kaul Singh Thakur on Tuesday declared Himachal smoke free and said that state government had achieved its goal in making the state Smoke Free.
Singh was presiding over the state level function on Declaration of Smoke Free Himachal here today. He said that Himachal Pradesh was the second hill State after Sikkim which has been made smoke free. However, the focus now should be to make homes completely smokeless.
He lauded the efforts of Himachal Pradesh Voluntary Health Association (HPVHA), the International Union for Tuberculosis and Lung Diseases, New Delhi and Department of Health and Family Welfare for the initiatives taken to curb the smoking habits of the people of the State.
The Minister said that the state had been declared smoke free in compliance to section 4 of Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Product Act (COTPA), 2003 in a technical and scientific survey done by Department of Community Medicine, IGMC, Shimla and Population Research Centre of Himachal Pradesh University.
He said that in Himachal more than 2500 panchayats of the state had complied to the provisions of COTPA and at present 93 percent compliance of the Act was being ensured by Education Department followed by 91 percent compliance by Health Department and 87 percent by Transport Department. This indicates of the initiatives of the state government to eradicate smoking and intake of tobacco related products. Apart from this, 57 Development Blocks of the State has also passed resolutions of their blocks being smoke free, he added.
The Minister said that in hill state like Himachal, the people mainly in hard and rural areas believe that intake of tobacco products were part of their routine and help to keep them warm during winters but actually their myth is to be broken. The need of the hour was to educate and create awareness among the rural masses of the state and aware them of the ill-effects of consuming tobacco related products, then only we can claim of making the state totally smokeless, he added.
Thakur said that the Himachal government was committed to eradicate tobacco related products from the State and in the budget, 2013-14 the Government had enhanced the tax on bidis from existing 11 % to 22% and on cigarettes the tax was increased from 18 to 36 percent plus 4% VAT on each. The Minister said that Bilaspur, Mandi and Shimla districts had ensured 92 percent compliance of the Act which needs to be enhanced 100 percent.
The Minister also gave away prizes to the departments who contributed in compliance of Section 4 of COTPA and signed a declaration making Himachal Pradesh Smoke Free.
Consultant, HPVHA Srinivas Joshi, gave detailed presentation pertaining to initiatives taken by the Association and revealed that as per survey 31 percent of children die due to Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) in the country because of passive smoking. He said that Himachal has done well and achieved compliance of 85.42 percent as per COPTA.
Executive Director, HPVHA Dr. Narinder Sharma also gave detailed presentation of the activities of the Association.
Principal Secretary, Health and Family Welfare Ali Raza Rizvi, Director, Health Services Dr. Kulbhushan Sood, Principal, IGMC Dr. S.S. Kaushal and delegates from different departments from all over the State were also present on the occasion.