GUWAHATI, March 11 - Students and teachers gathered here today on the occasion of No Smoking Day and appealed to the State government to implement tobacco vendor licensing as early as possible, and also to strictly ban smokeless tobacco products to save lives among the young generation.
The Consumers� Legal Protection Forum (CLPF), Assam, and Consumer Voice, New Delhi, organised a daylong sensitisation programme on the occasion of No Smoking Day at Beltola High School, where a large number of students and teachers from across the city were present.
The main focus of the programme was to make the students aware of the harmful effects of tobacco and tobacco consumption. Addressing the gathering, advocate Ajoy Hazarika, secretary of CLPF, said that the rising number of tobacco users in Assam, especially youths, is a matter of serious concern because 34.3 per cent of minors in the 13-15 year age group consume tobacco and tobacco products.
�Nearly one crore people consume tobacco and tobacco products in the State where 32,000 cancer cases are detected every year, of which 70 per cent are found at an advanced stage, leading to a high mortality rate of 40-50 per cent,� he said.
CLPF volunteers Nijwm Boro, Nazia Sultana, Chanda Goutam, Thuanthailiu Gonmei and Jahangir Alam in their presentation informed the gathering that tobacco companies are systematically targeting children as young as eight years of age by selling tobacco products and placing tobacco advertisements near schools despite the prohibition. Street and mobile vendors are making these products cheap and accessible to children and youths without any visible health warning.
Attending the programme, Biraja Das Malakar, Vice Principal of Beltola High School, said, �To protect and save the lives of youths and adults from harmful effects of tobacco, the government should strictly implement tobacco vendor licensing as well as ban smokeless tobacco in Assam, as both tobacco and nicotine products will be out of the market, which will help people lead a more healthy and productive life.�
The teachers appealed to the government to introduce a chapter in textbooks about the harmful effects of tobacco and tobacco products to create awareness among students.
The students present at the sensitisation programme urged the State government to strictly prohibit manufacture, distribution, sale, transportation, display of gutkha, paan masala and other chewing materials containing tobacco and nicotine in the State and save millions of youths from becoming victims of cancer and other dreaded diseases.