Punjab Government initiated a drive to eradicate tobacco use to save children & youth as well as tobacco-free work place on the occasion of Punjab State No Tobacco Day.
Giving details, Health Minister Balbir Singh Sidhu said that Punjab is the first state in the country to celebrate a state specific “Punjab State No Tobacco Day” on November 1. The theme of campaign is “Tobacco Free Workplaces”. Punjab is also a pioneer state to focus on youth by timely ban on e-cigarettes, hookah bars and by declaring hostels of colleges/universities as tobacco free. State will continue making efforts to curb this menace of tobacco as this will go a long way in deterring young children & youth from initiation & also motivate current users to quit.
Explaining objective of this campaign, he said that to make all the offices tobacco-free and to protect non-users from involuntary exposure to tobacco smoke at workplaces.
He divulged that Health Department, Punjab has taken up tobacco control as a flagship program. All the 22 districts in the state have been declared as Tobacco Smoke Free. Total 739 villages have been declared Tobacco Free. However, during year 2019-20, around 21,581 Challans have been issued against the violators under Cigarette and other Tobacco products Act, 2003 (COTPA, 2003). Tobacco Cessation centers have been established in all the districts. Free counseling services and cessation medicines like Tab Bupropion, Nicotine gums and patches are being provided in these centers. Total 20,239 Tobacco users have received services at these centers in year 2019-20.
Describing tobacco use is a major threat to public health globally, he said that smokeless tobacco users first of all are prone to deadly diseases and early death, and secondly users have a tendency to spit in public places, and therefore it increases health risks especially by spreading infectious and contagious diseases.
He urged all the citizens of the Punjab not to use or spit tobacco in public places as it is prohibited under section 268, 269 & 278 of Indian Penal code, 1860. A strict action will be taken against the violators under this drive.
He said that a special week long campaign will be launched w.e.f 1st November to 7th November 2020 for declaring all the Government offices as Tobacco Free and for the strict implementation of anti–tobacco laws. He said that at district level, all the govt. health facilities will be declared as Tobacco Free.