The Central Board of School Education (CBSE) has made it mandatory for all affiliated schools in Jammu and Kashmir to display tobacco warnings in the school premises. The board has also advised schools not to allow students to participate in any events sponsored by tobacco companies.
In its order, the CBSE said that anti-tobacco display boards may be put up at various places including the entrance gate outside the boundary wall of the schools, at the reception, cafeteria and other prominent places in the size recommended without fail at the earliest.
“The display board at the entrance would come with the warning that sale of cigarettes and other tobacco products in an area within the radius of 100 meters of any educational institution is a punishable offence,” the order read.
Pertinently, the punishment for selling tobacco products around schools can be imposed in the form of a fine worth Rupees one Lakh or six months imprisonment.
Pertinently, the latest circular is in continuation of an earlier circular sent to schools spelling out the guidelines on protection from exposure to tobacco smoke in keeping with the World Health Organization (WHO) guidelines to all the schools.
Taking note of the fact that some tobacco-promoting firms are finding some innovative ways to be involved with the school children, CBSE has asked schools to ensure such events do not reoccur.
“It is also recommended that schools should not allow any institution using brand name, emblem, trademark, logo or trade insignia or any other distinct feature directly or indirectly connected with tobacco products to be associated with students,” the order said.
As per Section 6 of the Cigarettes and other Tobacco Products (Prohibition of Advertisement and Regulation of Trade and Commerce, Production, Supply and Distribution) Act, 2003 (COTPA), there is a ban on the sale of tobacco to and by minors and prohibition on sale of tobacco products within 100 yards of educational institutions.
Under Section 6 (b) of COTPA, the sale of tobacco products is prohibited in an area within a radius of 100 yards of any educational institutions and mandatory signage in this regard should be displayed prominently near the main gate and on the boundary wall of the school or an institution.
The Principal Secretary, Education department in Jammu and Kashmir has already instructed all the Chief Education Officer’s (CEO’s) of the state to report the violations on COTPA on monthly basis.
The CEO’s have also been asked to collate the violations for strengthening institutionalization of the mechanism and to forward the details on monthly basis to the Deputy Commissioners and the Superintendents of Police in their respective districts.
Notably, the government with technical support from J&K Voluntary Health Association and VHAI, Delhi have already conducted sensitization workshops for the CEO’s across the state to sensitize them on various aspects of tobacco control laws and measure, particularly in respect of Section 4 and Section 6 of Tobacco Control Act 2003.
“All CEO’s in the state should now ensure regular monitoring of section 6 (b) of COTPA, work with the district police department to initiate action to book COTPA violations near educational institutions and should submit a monthly report to the Directorates of Education, Deputy Commissioners and the Superintendents of Police indicating the action taken and follow up actions initiated every month,” said Bhavna Mukhopadhyay, Executive Director, Voluntary Health Association of India.