Jharkhand to act against tobacco use by minors
At least 5.1 per cent children between 13 and 15 consume tobacco in some form or the other in Jharkhand, health minister Banna Gupta said on Monday, claiming that the government was focusing on checking the use of tobacco by minors and running several campaigns to stop this practice.
In a bid to completely eradicate the use of tobacco products by minors, a bill has also been introduced in the Jharkhand Assembly to increase the minimum age for tobacco consumption or any involvement of a person in tobacco related trade to 21 years from 18 years, the minister said.
“Such laws will prove to be a deterrent for minors and keep them away from the deadly addiction of tobacco in Jharkhand,” said Gupta, adding that the Centre must also follow similar steps in a bid to control the use of tobacco.
Releasing Jharkhand’s data in the Global Youth Tobacco Survey (GYTS) 2021 in Ranchi, Gupta claimed that many tobacco companies were gradually also trying to attract minor girls towards tobacco use, and the government was committed to prevent any rise in the number of minor girls addicted to tobacco.
“Our government is taking all possible steps to discourage the consumption of tobacco and also come up with stricter laws for the same,” said Gupta.
In a bid to check the use of tobacco, the Jharkhand government has prohibited the sale of tobacco products within a 100-meter radius of schools, government offices, hospitals and courts. Besides, any person found selling tobacco products to minors will face imprisonment of up to seven years and pay Rs 1 lakh fine.
The percentage of children between 13 and 15 years addicted to tobacco in India was 8.5 per cent, higher than that in Jharkhand. However, as per data shared by the minister, the total percentage of the population addicted to tobacco in Jharkhand was higher than the national average.
“The percentage of tobacco users in Jharkhand has dropped from 50.1 per cent to 38.9 per cent, but it was still higher than the national average of 28.6 per cent,” said Gupta.
In a bid to discourage the use of tobacco products, the Jharkhand government has also decided to take an undertaking from newly-recruited government employees, stating that they do not consume tobacco products. Besides, the government is planning to make tobacco-use related rules for private institutions and offices too, the minister said.