GUWAHATI, Sept 14 - All government secondary schools in Assam will soon be declared tobacco-free zones, thanks to the efforts of the State Education department, Healis Sekhsaria Institute for Public Health (HSIPH), and Dr B Borooah Cancer Institute, in association with Tata Trusts.
At present, there are 4,316 government secondary schools in the State, of which the schools in the districts of Lakhimpur, Baksa, Tinsukia, Udalguri, Sonitpur, Golaghat, Goalpara and Bongaigaon have been reported to be tobacco-free educational institutions, as per the submissions made by school inspectors to the Secondary Education Department (Rashtriya Madhyamik Siksha Abhiyan).
�The other districts are also working towards achieving it. This mission to make all schools tobacco-free was launched in the State when the Secretary for Secondary Education Ramesh Chand Jain had issued instructions on April 26 this year to all school inspectors,� said a statement issued by HSIPH.
As a follow-up measure, reminders for compliance were also sent to all schools by the Rashtriya Madhyamik Siksha Abhiyan (RMSA) through a centralised SMS service.
The school principals have now started sending declarations that their institutes are tobacco-free to the school inspectors, which are now being forwarded to the RMSA office.
On an average, 140 children start tobacco consumption on a daily basis in the State. The national average, though, is 5,500 children per day. As many as 39.4 per cent people in Assam are reportedly addicted to tobacco in one way or the other.
As many as 78 secondary schools in Bongaigaon, 189 in Baksa, 79 in Udalguri, 197 in Sonitpur and 120 in Goalpara have been declared tobacco-free zones. �This endeavour will enable us to save our future generations from the deadly clutches of tobacco addiction,� the statement added.