GUWAHATI, Jan 16 - In a soothing development, Members of the State Legislative Assembly, cutting across party lines, have pledged to make their respective constituencies tobacco-free.
Signing a pledge, the MLAs have promised to make all educational institutions tobacco-free by ensuring total prohibition on selling of tobacco products within 100 yards of the educational institutions, and also prevent buying or selling of tobacco products by anyone below the age of 18.
The Voluntary Health Association of Assam (VHAA), a non-profit organization involved in the field of public and rural health, in association with Voice of Tobacco Victims (VOTV) carried out this drive to make aware the politicians on the hazardous impact of tobacco abuse and also involve them in the campaign towards making Assam a tobacco-free state.
The signatories, among others, are � Pranab Kumar Gogoi (Speaker of Assam Legislative Assembly and MLA from Sivasagar), Nilamani Sen Deka (Agriculture Minister and MLA from Dharmapur), Chandan Brahma (Transport Minister and MLA from Sidli), Prashanta Phukan (Dibrugarh MLA), Keshav Mahanta (Koliabor MLA), Pramila Rani Brahma (MLA-Kokrajhar East), Hafiz Bashir Ahmed (MLA-Bilasipara West), Abdur Rahman Ajmal (MLA- South Salmara).
According to the Global Adult Tobacco Survey (GATS) carried out in 2010, in Assam, prevalence of tobacco users is 39.3 per cent as compared to national prevalence of 34.6 per cent, whereas 52.6 per cent of male and 25.3 per cent female are found to be users of tobacco in some form or the other.
According to the provisions of the Cigarette and Other Tobacco Products Act (COTPA), 2003, it is mandatory for all educational institutions to put up signage mentioning clearly that �selling of any tobacco products within 100 yards of institution is strictly prohibited�.
COTPA also forbids buying or selling of tobacco products by any individual below the age of 18.
Known oncologist and Director of the Dr B Barooah Cancer Institute Dr AC Kataki, who is also a patron of the VOTV observed, �Smoking and chewing tobacco is the single most important risk factor for cancer. 55-60 % of all cancers in male and 25-30% in female are tobacco-related cancer in this part of this country.
�Tobacco is also responsible for cardiovascular diseases, stroke, chronic respiratory disease, peripheral vascular disease and has adverse affects on pregnancy and child birth,� he said.
Executive secretary of the VHAA, Ruchira Neog observed that without the support and help from the political fraternity, the drive to make Assam tobacco free, cannot be achieved. She also called upon the policy makers to take a firm stand in this regard to ensure a safe, healthy and tobacco free future for children.