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Sabha joins anti-tobacco drive - Literary organisation to make its office a tobacco-free zone

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  • Published 30.04.12

Jorhat, April 29: Asam Sahitya Sabha, the premier literary organisation of the state has decided to join the anti-tobacco campaign of the state tobacco control cell.

Sabha general secretary Paramananda Rajbonshi told The Telegraph over phone from Guwahati today that since tobacco is consumed as part of social traditions in Assamese society, a strong campaign is needed to educate people about its harmful effects.

“We have a responsibility towards society and will try to contribute in tackling the menace,” he said. The general secretary said consumption of gutkha by the upcoming generation was a serious cause of concern and the Sabha will surely play an active role in the anti-tobacco campaign.

He hoped that with the organisation having its presence in every nook and corner of the state, it would be an added advantage in helping the cause.

“To start with, the Sabha headquarters here (Chandrakanta Handique Bhawan), will be declared a tobacco-free zone, followed by all our offices across the state,” Rajbonshi said. There are seven regional offices, 27 district offices and 200 branch offices of the organisation across the state.

Rajbonshi said there are another 700 branches, which do not have offices, but the members of those branches could also assist in the campaign. “We will ask all Sabha members and those associated with the literary organisation to cooperate with the national tobacco control cell (Assam unit), to make the campaign a success,” he said.

Assistant secretary Debojit Borah said they had received the proposal from the Jorhat district tobacco control cell last week and decided to join it.

He said the process to declare the headquarters tobacco-free will start soon, with the tobacco cell carrying out awareness drives and counselling among office employees here, followed by all office-bearers of the Jorhat district unit. Borah said functions, meetings organised on the Sabha premises by other organisations will be directed to maintain the area as tobacco-free.

The cell’s nodal officer, Bhaktimay Bhattacharyya, who is also the senior medical health officer, said the Sabha agreeing to join the anti-tobacco campaign was a “very positive” step and is expected to provide a big boost. “As the Asam Sahitya Sabha is respected by people and has a strong network across the state, it will be beneficial to the campaign,” Bhattacharyya said.

The nodal officer added that Jorhat has been taking the lead in the campaign, with Charaibahi Higher Secondary School on Rowriah outskirts becoming the first tobacco-free school in September 2009 and Shahpuria Gaon on the western outskirts being declared the first tobacco-free village in the country last year.