Aizawl, July 3 (IANS): Concerned with the high incidence of cancer and tobacco related diseases, the Mizoram government has launched a programme to become a "smoking-free" State.
"No person henceforth would be allowed to smoke in open places or in front of a non-smoker. Smoking had already banned in the premises of government offices, educational institutions and health centres across Mizoram," Chief Minister Lal Thanhawla said late Saturday after launching the "Smoke Free Mizoram" programme.
According to state government records, Mizoram topped the country eight years ago in the consumption of tobacco.
The Chief Minister's wife Lal Riliani, president of the Mizoram chapter of the Indian Society of Tobacco Health, said that more than 50 percent of cancer cases among Mizos were caused by tobacco.
"The State government is giving its all out support to the anti-tobacco organisations and activists to strictly enforce the Control of Tobacco Products Act (CTPA) in the State," Lal Riliani said.
"Few activists had started an anti-tobacco campaign in Mizoram around 20 years back. During those days, the anti-tobacco activists were laughed upon and people used to mock them. Now, their tireless efforts have begun producing positive results," she added.
Mizos are traditionally heavy smokers of different types of tobacco. The latest survey, conducted in 2009, revealed that 55 percent of the state's population were smokers.
"The survey revealed that as much as 73.1 percent of the smokers wanted to quit smoking as they felt that smoking is the cause of many diseases, including cancer," said Jane R. Ralte, state nodal officer-cum-project officer of Mizoram State Tobacco Control Society (MSTCS).
At least 84.2 percent people admitted that their expenditure on tobacco use was a financial burden, the survey said.