GUWAHATI, Jan 16 (IANS): A large number of legislators in Assam, cutting across party lines, Thursday pledged to make their constituencies free from tobacco and save children in the state from the menace.
The MLAs took the pledge as part of an anti-tobacco drive carried out by the Voluntary Health Association of Assam (VHAA), a non-profit organisation involved in the field of public and rural health, in association with Voice of Tobacco Victims.
Its aim was to create awareness among politicians on the hazardous impact of tobacco and also seek their support in making Assam a tobacco-free state.
"The legislators signed a pledge to this end today (Thursday) and promised to make all educational institutions tobacco-free in his or her constituency," said Ruchira Neog of the VHAA.
They also pledged to put in efforts for total prohibition on the sale of tobacco products within 100 yards of educational Institutions, and prevent buying or selling of tobacco products by anyone below the age of 18, Neog said.
The Global Adult Tobacco Survey, carried out in 2010, said that in Assam, the percentage of tobacco users is 39.3 compared to 34.6 percent across India. Over 52 percent of males and 25 percent females use tobacco in some form or the other, Neog said.
A.C. Kataki, director of the Dr. B. Barooah Cancer Institute in Assam, said smoking and chewing tobacco were the most important risk factors for cancer, and 55-60 percent of all cancers in male and 25-30 percent in females are tobacco-related in the northeastern region of India.