Education Department starts SMS campaign to make Educational Institutions Tobacco Free

Guwahati, June 20: The Assam Government has started an SMS campaign to ensure all Educational Institutions are tobacco Free in Assam.  Healis - Sekhsaria Institute for Public Health & Tata Trusts in association with the Assam Education department and Dr. B. Barooah Cancer Institute in Guwahati had launched the Tobacco Free Educational Institutions (TFEI) campaign in Assam on the World Environment Day, June 5, 2016. 
Following the launch, the Commissioner Secretary of the Assam Education department had instructed the Principal/Heads of Education Institutions and the District Education Officers to implement the TFEI campaign across the state.
As a follow up, the Rashtriya Madhamik Siksha Abhiyan (RMSA) and Sarba Siksha Abhiyan (SSA) has now started sending SMSs to the Principals and Heads of the Government educational institutions across the state reminding them to implement the orders and declare their institutions as tobacco Free.
Secretary of Secondary Education Department of Assam, Sri Ramesh Chandra Jain said that they have started sending SMSs to the Principal and Heads of the institutions through the centralized system of RMSA. This Saturday, the RMSA had sent 4,000 such SMSs to the Principals/Heads of government educations institutions. “Our efforts will ensure that the Principals and Heads of educational institutions ensure implementation at the earliest. We shall continue to send the SMS until implementation is completed in all the Government educational institutions,” Jain said adding that this process of sending the SMS will expedite the process of implementation of TFEI.
 In order to declare the educational institutions tobacco Free, the Heads/Principals of the Educational institution need to do the following:
a)    All signages inside and outside the educational institutions should be put up as per the law
b)    There must not be any usage of tobacco products inside the premises.
c)    A self declaration along with photograph of the institution in the format sent along with the order needs to be sent to the DEO.  
This is as per the tobacco control law : The Cigarettes & Other Tobacco Products Act (COTPA 2003):
It may be mentioned here that Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal has plans to build a tobacco free Assam. The Chief Minister had recently instructed to make the under construction Assam House in New Delhi a tobacco free building.
State Health and Education Minister Dr. Himanta Biswa Sarma, who has also taken keen interest on the subject, had also appealed to everyone to work in close coordination to make the society tobacco free while speaking at a recent function organized to observe the World Anti-Tobacco Day.
Director of Dr. B. Barooah Cancer Institute, Dr. Amal C Kataki  expressing concern over the use of tobacco said that a lot of new cases of cancer are being diagnosed in the Northeastern states, particularly from Assam, and most of these cases of cancer are due to use of tobacco. “It will be great if we can keep our school children away from tobacco addiction and we all must come forward to take this Mission forward,” he said while appreciating the positive steps taken by the state government in this regard.
In Assam, 140 children initiate to use tobacco everyday. Over 85 lakh adults are consuming tobacco in some or the other form in Assam as per the Global Adult Tobacco Survey 2010. One-third of these would die an untimely death due to tobacco related diseases. Every year Assam witnesses 29,600 deaths due to tobacco consumption.

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