Maha govt to start campaign to make residential schools tobacco-free

Earlier in the year, the state government had initiated a campaign to take action against those who sell tobacco products within 100 yards of a school or college. Action was taken as per the Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products Act (COTPA). Not only this, a toll-free number was also started to lodge a complaint against them

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Now upon these lines, the Maharashtra government is set to make residential schools tobacco-free. Social Welfare Minister, Rajkumar Badole,  stated that a notification was sent to residential schools across the state, instructing them to check whether there is sale of tobacco in their vicinity.

And also to create posters which make children aware about the negative effects of smoking and using tobacco products. The posters should be displayed in the school.

Badole further informed that no tobacco products should be sold around 100 yards in proximity of schools and colleges. Tobacco causes cancer, if schoolgoing children began to consume tobacco products; there are chances of these kids developing cancer down the line.

The movement which was started by the state government to make educational institutions tobacco-free has now been extended to residential schools.

In total, there are 502 government and non-government residential schools in the state. Most of these students come from an economically poor background.

As part of this campaign, the state social welfare minister has sent a circular to principals in residential schools informing them about the steps to be taken.

Rajkumar Badole said, “All the residential schools must participate in this campaign. The notification must be read out in front of students, parents, teacher and others working at the school. A copy of this must also be displayed at the entrance of the school. ‘Selling tobacco products around schools is a crime’ – a board containing this message must be placed outside the school.”

He added, “The principal of each must hire a committee to investigate whether tobacco products are being consumed by the students. This committee should hold a meeting once a month, and the minutes of the meeting or report must be sent to the state government.”

A copy of the COPTA Act 2003 should be hanged inside the principal’s office.

During the year, at least one health camp must be organised in the school. The oral health of the students must be checked and they should informed about the harmful effects of tobacco, along with the symptoms of cancer. When a residential schools gets rid of tobacco use in its premises, a board will be displayed stating that this is a tobacco-free school.

  • Maharashtra has 2.4 crore tobacco users and an estimated 72,000 die every year due to tobacco use.
  • Sambandh Health Foundation’s Deepak Chhibba said according to Global Adult Tobacco Survey (GATS) 2016-17, in Maharashtra state 26.6% of the population people (aged 15+) consume tobacco in some form.
  • Of these 17 lac (1.9%) smoke cigarettes and another 17 lac (1.9%) smoke bidi, but 24.4% (2.2 crore) use smokeless tobacco.
  • 530 children are initiate tobacco usage every day. There are very few interventions to stop usage of smokeless tobacco.