Rajasthan: NGO demands tobacco-free polling booth during election

In a letter to Rajasthan Chief Electoral Officer, Voice of Tobacco Victims (VoTV) and Sambandh Health Foundation (SHF) requested polling stations to be tobacco-free during the coming assembly election across the state.

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VoTV Rajasthan patron and Cancer Surgeon Dr Pawan Singhal said, “In a letter to Anand Kumar, we have requested that during the voting on December 7, no one should be allowed to consume tobacco in any form including cigarette, bidi and chewing tobacco in and within the premises of polling stations in Rajasthan.”

He said Kumar has been apprised about the situation of tobacco use and untimely tobacco-related deaths in Rajasthan by providing him the data of Global Adult Tobacco Survey 2017.

Dr Singhal said that Chief Electoral Officer has been requested to put signboards as per Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products Act (COTPA) of 60cm by 30cm at all the 51796 polling stations across the state. As per Section 4 of the Cigarette and Other Tobacco Products Act (COTPA), smoking is prohibited in public places and all polling booths are public places.

Doctor said in Rajasthan, as per GATS-2, 39.6% of men, 9% of women and 24.7% of all adults currently either smoke and or use smokeless tobacco. As per data, 22.2% of men, 3.7% of women and 13.2% of all adult currently smoke tobacco, while 22% of men, 5.8% of women and 14.1% of all adults currently use smokeless tobacco.

VoTV patron said Kumar has been requested to direct officials of election and other departments to ensure that no government personnel, police personnel and others deployed in at the polling stations and voting coming to these booths for casting their franchise do not use tobacco in and within the premises of the polling booths.

He said, “We must protect our citizens who come to cast their votes by ensuring them a tobacco-free environment.”

Sambandh Health Foundation (SHF) trustee Sanjay Seth said “Rajasthan witnesses 77000 deaths every year due to tobacco usage. Putting signboard of tobacco-free zones as per the law at these polling stations will create a healthy environment for general public coming to cast their votes.”