New Delhi, The attractive colorful packets filled with poisonous products are readily available around the government and private educational institutes in the capital. These are not only harmful to the present generation but also hold a potential threat to the future generations studying in these institutions. The Police Department as well as the Education Department play a significant role in reducing the addiction level of tobacco products among our youth. Hence, these Departments have joined hands and with technical assistance by Sambandh Health Foundation and Max India Foundation to launch a campaign to make all educational institutes in Delhi tobacco free. The campaign was flagged off first in North Delhi MCD Schools in a function at the Constitution Club of India today. The campaign will make all the campuses (of both government and private institutes) tobacco free. As per the law COTPA (Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products Act, 2003) there should be no use of tobacco in educational institutes. COTPA also requires that there be no sale of tobacco products within 100 yards of an educational institute. While the Education Department can make the campuses tobacco free, Police are needed to ensure that there is no sale near schools. According to Global Adult Tobacco Survey (GATS 2017) 12.4% of the population between the ages of 15 and 24 are consumers of tobacco products in India.
Mr. Sanjay Seth from Sambandh Health Foundation stressed that shielding the children from tobacco use requires providing them safe campuses. There should be no usage of tobacco in schools. Such an initiative can be made successful not only with the help of the teachers but also the strict and vigilant actions of the enforcing agencies. He also said that 24.3% of the population of Delhi (about 30 lakh adults) uses tobacco in some form or the other. On average 81 children initiate the use of tobacco products in Delhi every day, whereas the 5500 children initiate use of tobacco products daily in India. Most of the children are addicted to tobacco before reaching adulthood. This addiction has led to around 10600 people dying in Delhi every year. Only 3% of the total population addicted to tobacco is able to quit, thus it is more important to protect the children from starting usage.
Speaking on the ill effects of tobacco use Ms. Mohini Daljit Singh from Max India Foundation said that the use of tobacco products hamper the mental and physical development of children and also causes them to lose focus on their studies. Thus a focus on educating the students of the ill effects of tobacco use will reduce the chances of these children getting addicted to it in the future. She also stated that one fourth of these children belong to families where one or both of their parents consume tobacco products. Since there is no safe limit to the use of tobacco the best option for the consumer is to completely stop the usage of such products.
Director Krishna Kumar, North Delhi Municipal Corporation, Education Directorate, said that all the educational institutions both government and private have been issued an order under the COTPA (The Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products Act 2003) Act to ensure the rid the educational institutions of the use of tobacco products. The order has stated that all educational institutions should be declared tobacco free under Section 4 and Section 6(b) by the 20th of July 2017. Under the order the educational institutions have been ordered to put up sign boards on the inner and outer boundaries of their premises stating the use of tobacco products and the sale of tobacco products respectively. In addition the headmasters have also been asked to declare their institutions tobacco free. The notifications should have such an effect after which no objects such as lighters and ash trays are found and no tobacco products are sold or are misused within 100 yards of the educational institutions.
Further the Director said that the headmasters have been asked to submit reports on the above in 2 ways; to their zonal officer and by email. The zonal officer will further compile all the data containing information about all the educational institutions in their zone and send it to the Education Directorate.
The DCP of Delhi North, Mr. Jatin Narwal has said that during the summer vacations most of the vendors selling tobacco products near school have been removed but as the schools are reopening it will become extremely important to gain the support of the local residents to ensure that no tobacco is being sold near the school premises. Mr. Narwal further added that the premises and the outskirts of the educational institutions will be made tobacco free with the help of the headmasters. Failure to comply with the order will result in action against the said party under the COTPA Act. in subsequent violation, an action under JJ A will be taken in which whoever gives, or causes to give, to any child any intoxicating liquor or any narcotic drug or tobacco products or psychotropic substance, shall be punishable with rigorous imprisonment for a term which may extend to seven years and also shall be liable to a fine which may extend up to one lakh rupees
Voice Of Tobacco Victims (VOTV) Patron and cancer specialist Dr. Sourav Gupta said that if the children and youth are stopped at a young age from using tobacco the chances of them getting addicted to it decreases. Therefore it is very important to take strict actions to protect the children and youth from tobacco products. People who get addicted to or use tobacco at a very young age tend to suffer from vatious diseases and their average lifespan decreases around 22%-26% as compared to someone who does not use tobacco.
The following are the Acts.
COPTA Section 4
Signboard mentioning the Prohibition of Smoking inside school premises.
COPTA Section 6 (b)
Signboard mentioning the Prohibition and sale of tobacco products in an area within a radius of one hundred yards of any educational institution or fine.
People found smoking or selling tobacco in any form in a public place or within a college campus can be fined upto Rs.200 under the COPTA Act.