NGO VHAA urges Assam govt to enforce anti-tobacco act

On the eve of the World No Tobacco Day, 2018, Voluntary Health Association of Assam (VHAA), a non-government organization has urged the Assam government to strictly enforce the central anti-tobacco act in Assam and, thereby, impose complete ban on smoking in any public places, sale of tobacco products to minors and within the 100 yards radius of any educational institutions which as mandated by the section 4 and 6 of the Cigarette and Other Tobacco Product Act (COTPA), 2003.

The World No Tobacco Day (WNTD) – is observed globally on May 31 by World Health Organization (WHO) and partners to mark the occasion, highlighting the health and other risks associated with tobacco use, and advocating for effective policies to reduce tobacco consumption.

The focus of World No Tobacco Day 2018 is ‘Tobacco and heart disease’.

According to WHO, cardiovascular diseases (CVD) kill more people than any other cause of death worldwide, and tobacco use and second-hand (passive) smoke exposure contribute to approximately 12 per cent of all heart disease deaths. Tobacco use is the second leading cause of CVD, after high blood pressure.

“Synchronizing with this year’s theme of the WNTD, we would like to request the Assam government to strictly enforce COTPA, 2003, especially the ban on smoking at public places including workplaces as authorized by the section 4 of the COTPA, 2003. It is alarming that almost half of the adult population in Assam is using tobacco in some form or other and if that is not enough more than 30 per cent of nonsmokers are exposed to passive smoking in work and public places of Assam,” said Ruchira Neog, executive secretary, VHAA.

The current party in power in the state, in their election manifesto published before the Assam Assembly elections of 2016 specifically mentioned about banning use of cigarette and tobacco products in public places.

As per the Global Adult Tobacco Survey (GATS)-2016-17 conducted by WHO and union ministry of health and family welfare, 48.2 percent of adult population (15 years or above) consume tobacco in some form or other in Assam. There has been a steep rise in tobacco consumptions in Assam from 39.3 per cent (as per GATS-2010) to 48.2 per cent in the last six years.

GATS- 2016-17 also points out that 30.8 percent of all adults were exposed to second hand smoke or passive smoke at their work place and 15 per cent of all adults were exposed to second hand smoke at any public places in Assam. While 39.8 per cent are still exposed to second hand smoke at home.

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