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No-tobacco steps in Jorhat

Presidents, secretaries of managing committees and imams attend the workshop in Jorhat on Saturday. Telegraph picture

Jorhat, Feb. 15: The Jorhat District Tobacco Control Cell in association with Central Club, Jorhat, has launched an initiative to spread awareness about the harmful effects of tobacco consumption among the members of a minority community by involving religious and community leaders.

Jorhat deputy commissioner is the chairman of the cell which has been functioning since the last seven years. The cell had declared Charaibahi Higher Secondary School, on the outskirts of the city, as the first tobacco-free school in September 2009.

Central Club, Jorhat, is a well-known socio-cultural voluntary organisation of Upper Assam. It was established in 1929 and is involved in various kinds of social work.

As part of the initiative, a training-cum-workshop exclusively for presidents, secretaries and imams of mosques in Jorhat was organised on the subject yesterday at Central Club, where a call to discard use of tobacco and its related products was made by the cell and also by the club.

An imam is a post held by a person under whom the faithfuls offer namaz in mosques.

Jorhat cell's nodal officer Bhaktimoy Bhattacharjee, who is also the senior district medical and health officer, told The Telegraph today that the cell has been carrying out awareness campaigns in namghars and xatras and now plans to do the same through mosques to reach out to the minority community.

Bhattacharjee said he gave a PowerPoint presentation at the training-cum-workshop. It was followed by a video film on tobacco consumers suffering from cancer and battling for their lives.

The nodal officer said an appeal was made to the imams to inform people about the ill-effects of tobacco consumption and that they should discard it - during the customary address of imams to people during Friday noon prayers in mosques. The appeal was accepted by imams.

Bhattacharjee said an interactive session was also held where the participants asked questions on the subject. The meeting decided to organise such awareness drives locality-wise covering members of two to three mosques. Representatives of Jorhat Pain and Palliative Care Society also spoke at the workshop.

The president of the club, Zakir Ahmed, who is a doctor, an entrepreneur and a social worker, said the club would definitely extend cooperation to the cell for "such a good cause".

Till date the cell has declared 87 educational institutes in the district as tobacco-free and the list includes a madarsa and five xatras.

Till date, Rs 87,000 has been collected as fine for violation of the Centre's anti-tobacco law. Those fined include a serving commissioner-level officer of the Assam government and an army officer of the rank of a lieutenant colonel.

The cell has also declared six villages in the district tobacco-free.


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