The Home Minister of Maharashtra, Dr Ranjit Patil has said, there are many laws present in Maharashtra to prevent the consumption of tobacco by children, especially the presence of COTPA (Cigarettes and other Tobacco Products Act. 2003) and Juvenile Justice Act. The COTPA and JJ Act will be implemented strictly by the police to ensure a safe future for the children.”
Dr Patil addressed the issue of saving children from tobacco use at a program organised by Sambandh Health Foundation (SHF) and TATA Memorial Hospital at the hospital on the occasion of Children’s Day.
Dr Patil said, “A meeting will be held with all the police officials where they will be guided on the process for tobacco control. Along with this a report on the progress made as per COTPA in the state will be taken.”
He added, “A letter will be sent to all police officials in the state asking for all the work that has been done in the field of tobacco control. This will also be included in the Monthly crime analysis. A helpline will be started where anyone can call and report the unauthorized sale and consumption of tobacco in a restricted place. The name and address of these information providers will be kept anonymous.”
Director of Tata Memorial Hospital Rajendra A Badwe said, “A mere 3 per cent of people who consume tobacco products are able to quit tobacco whereas the rest 97 per cent of the people are only able to think of quitting. Every fifth child in Maharashtra is consuming tobacco in some form or the other which is a matter of concern.
He added, “He has said that out of all the cancer patients that come to the hospital 30 per cent of the patients are below the age of 30. 72,000 people die every year due to tobacco use whereas 529 children initiate the use of tobacco every day.”
According to Sambandh Health Foundation’s trustee Mr Sanjay Seth, “76480 schools have become tobacco free in Maharashtra. If children are made aware of the dangers of tobacco use at the school level, the chances of them consuming it will decrease in future.”
Dr Pankaj Chaturvedi, Tata Memorial Hospital’s Cancer surgeon said, “As per GATS-2(Global Adult Tobacco Survey) 2017, almost 28.6 per cent of people in India consume tobacco in some form or the other which is a very alarming situation. Seeing the 85 per cent of warning on the packets 61.9 per cent of cigarette smokers and 53.8 per cent of the people have thought about quitting tobacco, whereas in 2009-10 38 per cent of cigarette smokers and 29.3 per cent of bidi smokers had thought about quitting tobacco.
In the course of the program organized on the occasion of Children’s day it has come to attention, that at least 17lakh children are involved in the tobacco industry in Maharashtra in some form or the other which is a matter of grave concern. Mr Tehring Bhutia from Salaam Bacche Foundation working on protecting children from tobacco said, “Working with kids is the most effective way of protecting our future generations.”