GUWAHATI, Sept 20 - The District Tobacco Control Cell of Kamrup Metro recently carried out sudden visits in 40 educational institutions of the city and among them only 20 were found to be tobacco-free.
After the study, the cell is now planning to implement three long-term strategies to enforce sections 4 and 6 of the Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products (Prohibition of Advertisement and Regulation of Trade and Commerce, Production, Supply and Distribution) Act or COTPA Act in the city.
For the purpose the district administration has decided to constitute a task force in each circle of the district. Each task force will comprise a magistrate, a food safety official, a police official along with municipal officials. In connection with the matter the Deputy Commissioner of Police (Crime) will issue directions to all police stations to help the task force in its job.
According to official sources, the main job of the task force is to declare 100 schools of the city as tobacco-free within this financial year. In this connection the district administration has also asked the Inspector of Schools to issue an order to all schools to implement Section 6 of the COTPA Act on their premises.
As per the COTPA Act, every educational institution needs to constitute a monitoring committee to keep their campus tobacco-free. But unfortunately in Guwahati, such committees are yet to come up in many educational institutions.
�In some cases a section of people became violent when we approached them to stop selling and consuming tobacco products in public places. So we need a team of higher officials and police to tackle such situations,� said Dr Mridul Bharati Nath, Nodal Officer of the District Tobacco Control Cell.
According to Dr Nath, complete prohibition on use of tobacco products in public places in Guwahati still remains a challenge because tobacco products are mainly sold by temporary vendors.
�When our team starts a drive against sale of tobacco in an area, the temporary vendors hide such products. So in many instances we fail in fulfilling our aim,� Dr Nath said.
He also stated that in comparison to private schools, the rate of consumption of tobacco products among students is very high in government schools of the city.