‘J&K has 12% cigarette smokers against 5.7% nationwide prevalence’

KL Report

SRINAGAR

Voluntary Health Association of India (VHAI) Wednesday organized a media sensitization workshop for working journalists in Jammu on Tobacco Control Laws – COTPA 2003. The objective of the workshop was to sensitize the state level key media persons on the various aspects of tobacco control measures, implementation of COTPA 2003 and related issues.

The workshop meeting commenced with the welcome address from Binoy Mathew, Media Officer VHAI. Extending his warm welcome to the media men he explained how the state of Jammu and Kashmir is fast emerging as the smoking capital of north India.

“J&K’s monthly spending on ‘smoking tobacco’ far outstrips the national monthly expenditure averages. While nationally, smokers aged 15 and above spend Rs 399.20 a month on cigarettes and Rs 93.40 on bidis, those in J-K spend Rs 513.60 and Rs 134.20, respectively, on these tobacco forms. Bidi expenditure in J&K is thus 1.5 times the country’s average. Consequently, health hazards due to passive smoking are also more in J&K than elsewhere in the North,” Binoy said.

Rahul Sharma, Programme Officer Advocacy spoke on the COTPA Tobacco Control Laws, implementation and enforcement in J&K.

He explained about the Global Adult Tobacco Survey (GATS) India 2009 – 10 released by Ministry of Health & Family Welfare (MoHFW), GoI. The survey conveys that 26.6% population of Jammu & Kashmir is using tobacco product in one or the other of its form.

“Jammu & Kashmir has 12% cigarette smokers, 3.8% bidi smokers and 8.0% smokeless tobacco users. J&K’s cigarette use prevalence (12%) is almost double the nationwide prevalence of 5.7%. It has come to light that the highest proportion of adults (67.9%) exposed to tobacco smoke in offices are in J&K and the lowest (15.4%) are in Chandigarh,” he added.

Uber Altaf, Programme Officer VHAI, spoke on how to make educational institutions in Jammu region tobacco free by involving Chief Education Officer, Zonal Educational Officer, Principals and concerned SHO.

Through the Open House, the media present were given the opportunity to interact and ask relevant questions in regard to the tobacco control laws in the state, the role played by NGOs and Civil Society in combating the same and the level of intervention and initiatives at the policy level of the concerned government departments/Ministries.

Pertinently, an appeal was made to the media present to play an active role to support for the tobacco control programmes in Jammu and to play a very proactive role as agents of positive change in society.

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