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Anti-tobacco drive in Jorhat

- Interaction with cancer patients to increase awareness

Jorhat, May 26: With an aim to create awareness against the ill effects of tobacco consumption, on the occasion of World No Tobacco Day on May 31, the Jorhat district tobacco control cell will organise an interaction with victims of tobacco consumption, who have suffered from cancer.

A signature campaign, human chain and a meeting too will be part of the anti-tobacco awareness drive, to be organised on that day by the district tobacco control cell under the Jorhat district administration in association with the district unit of the Asam Sahitya Sabha.

Bhaktimoy Bhattacharjee, the nodal officer of the Jorhat district tobacco control cell, who is also a senior district medical officer, told this correspondent that five persons from the district who consumed tobacco and its products and had suffered from cancer, have agreed to come to the awareness meeting scheduled to be held at the district library auditorium here.

“The five persons in the age group of 50 and above now, who for the past few years have been undergoing treatment to battle cancer will appeal to the youths to discard tobacco and its products,” Bhattacharjee said.

He said the five victims, who have undergone tracheastomy (a kind of neck surgery in which a hole is made through the neck into the windpipe), have limited ability to speak.

“Our aim is to show to the present generation the kind of suffering and horror one has to face as a result of consuming tobacco and its products and the difficulties brought by the same to the family,” Bhattacharjee said.

The nodal officer said the name of the interaction programme would be “the voice of tobacco victims”. The nodal officer said ENT surgeon and cancer specialist Pradip Kumar Saikia would give a presentation on the occasion.

Bhattacharjee said there are plans for a huge rally to be organised which will see the participation of school and college students, members of NGOs and voluntary organisations holding placards and posters against consumption of tobacco and its products.

He said in consonance with the World Health Organisation’s call for raising the tax on tobacco and its products a signature campaign will be organised. An essay competition on the ill effects of consumption of tobacco and its products has been organised in three categories — primary, high school and secondary level — by the Sabha. Certificates and prizes for the best three essays will be given away at a function on that day.

Jorhat was the first district in the state to impose a fine in 2011 for smoking in public places, under the Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products, Prohibition of Advertisement and Regulation of Trade and Commerce, Production, Supply and Distribution Act, 2003.

Till date, Rs 56,000 has been collected as fine for violation of the anti-tobacco law and those fined include a serving commissioner-level officer of the Assam government and an army officer in the rank of lieutenant colonel.

Smoking in public places, selling of tobacco products within 100 yards of an educational institute and selling tobacco products to minors are offences under the anti-tobacco law and offenders could be penalised by imposing a fine up to Rs 200 for each violation.

Charaibahi Higher Secondary School on the southwestern outskirts here was the first school in the state to be declared tobacco-free in September 2009. Till date, the Jorhat cell has declared 83 educational institutes in the district as tobacco-free and the list includes a madarsa here. Four xatras (Vaishnavite monasteries) in Majuli and one in Teok have been declared tobacco-free since 2012.


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