Anti-smoking dept to focus on varsities, colleges

The Delhi government’s anti-smoking department will carry out special drives in colleges and universities on Monday to check if the authorities are keeping the premises tobacco free.

The last day of the month is observed as a ‘dry day’ for tobacco products. The department will focus on educational institutions in southwest Delhi.

“The drive will be carried out across 11 districts but the focus will be on the colleges and universities in southwest Delhi,” said Dr S K Arora, Additional Director, Health, Directorate of Health Services (DHS).

The health department teams will check if the institution has appointed a nodal officer and formed a tobacco-free committee. The college and university premises will be checked for no-smoking signages.

 “Every institution will be checked if they are complying with the provisions of  the Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products Act (COPTA), 2003. The department will check for both cigarettes and chewing tobacco products. The compliance rate has gradually improved over the years,” said Dr Arora.

Last month, the department had carried out sensitisation drives in schools and coaching centres. Students were counselled why they should not take to tobacco.  It has also appealed to all tobacco vendors to voluntarily close their shops. “The general public is also educated on the ill-effects of tobacco on this day,” said a senior health department official.

For the past few months, the government has tried to do away with coercive methods while discouraging vendors who deal in tobacco.The health department recently counselled vendors in selling alternative snack items.

The department will declare health — which will cover both private and government hospitals, education, transport and police departments as tobacco-free zones. The first department to go tobacco-free will be Health. “We are working on the enforcement in each department so that the departments can be declared tobacco-free soon,” said Dr Arora.

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