Punjab; On Monday, the Punjab government started a week-long initiative to exterminate tobacco usage to protect children and youth, on the event of ‘World No Tobacco Day. Health Minister Balbir Singh Sidhu said the campaign was begun in all districts and would carry on till June 6. During the drive, all government and health facilities would be represented as ‘Tobacco-Free’, and ‘No Tobacco Pledge’ would be practiced at all health departments. A State-level anti-tobacco radio drive and audio notification at bus stands had also been started to expand consciousness among people.
Mr. Sidhu stated all the 22 districts in the State had been announced tobacco-free. A total of 739 villages had reported themselves tobacco-free. During 2020-2021, 8,177 challans were issued against the violators under the Cigarette and other Tobacco Products Act, 2003 (COTPA). Tobacco Cessation centers had been installed in all districts. Free counseling assistance and cessation medications such as tablet Bupropion, Nicotine gums, and patches were being given in the centers. A total of 10,832 tobacco users had obtained services at these hubs in 2020-21, he continued.
The Minister said Punjab was a pioneer State to concentrate on youth by the appropriate prohibition on e-cigarettes, hookah bars and by representing colleges and universities as tobacco-free.“Tobacco use is a major threat to public health globally. Smokeless tobacco users are prone to deadly diseases and early death; secondly, users have a tendency to spit in public places, and therefore it increases health risks, especially by spreading infectious diseases like COVID-19,” he said.