District Magistrate Srinagar Dr Shahid Iqbal Choudhary on Wednesday chaired the maiden meeting of the district level coordination committee constituted for implementation of the Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products Act or COTPA 2003 in Srinagar.
The meeting highlighted the prevalence of tobacco use in the district and the need for a strict enforcement mechanism for implementation of provisions of COTPA which prohibits advertisement and provides for the regulation of trade and commerce in production and distribution of cigarettes and other tobacco products.
Epidemiologist Dr Rehana Kousar who was also present in the meeting gave a presentation on the use of tobacco and burden thereof in India in general and the state of Jammu & Kashmir in particular.
In Srinagar, she said the data suggests that the annual amount spent on tobacco consumption – including e-cigarettes purchased online – is a staggering Rs. 131 crore which is the highest in the State adding that the figure serves as a good indicator of the massive use of tobacco in the district.
The meeting also highlighted and specified the roles and responsibilities of different departments and members of the coordination committee in implementing the provisions of the tobacco control law and reducing the use of tobacco in the district.
District Magistrate Dr Shahid Iqbal Choudhary while speaking on the occasion stressed the need for a sustained awareness campaign highlighting the risks of tobacco use and involving public in efforts to control tobacco use.
He said certain departments have a major role in the implementation of the tobacco control law instructing each of them to acquaint themselves therewith and ensure strict executions thereof.
Dr Shahid also said that social media can be particularly important avenue as far as awareness generation about tobacco use and its control are concerned and called for making short creative videos aimed at discouraging tobacco use and encouraging efforts towards tobacco control.
The Srinagar district level coordination committee for implementation of COTPA was constituted last month. It comprises 15 members including the District Magistrate Srinagar as its chairman.
Other members include Senior Superintendent of Police, Additional Commissioner State Tax Department, General Manager District Industries & Commerce, Assistant Commissioner Development, Additional Mission Director National Rural Livelihood Mission, Assistant Commissioner Drug & Food Control Organisation, Deputy Director Information (Kashmir), Chief Medical Officer, Chief Education Officer, Chief Sanitation Officer Srinagar Municipal Corporation, Principal Government Women’s College MA Road, Principal Amar Singh College Gogji Bagh and two members from two different NGOs to be nominated.
Different members have been assigned different roles and responsibilities for ensuring effective and functional application of tobacco control in the district.
The constitution of a district level coordination committee is advised under the National Tobacco Control Programme of Government of India aimed at effective implementation of tobacco control laws.