Punjab launches drive to curb tobacco use

Health Minister says all 22 districts have been declared as tobacco-free

The Punjab government on Monday launched a week-long drive to eradicate tobacco use to save children and youth, on the occasion of ‘World No Tobacco Day’.

Health Minister Balbir Singh Sidhu said the campaign was launched in all districts, and would carry on till June 6. During the campaign, all government and health facilities would be declared as ‘Tobacco-Free’ and ‘No Tobacco Pledge’ would be taken at all health facilities. A State-level anti-tobacco radio campaign and audio announcement at bus stands had also been launched to spread awareness among people.

Mr. Sidhu said all the 22 districts in the State had been declared as tobacco-free. A total of 739 villages had declared themselves tobacco-free. During 2020-2021, 8,177 challans were issued against the violators under the Cigarette and other Tobacco Products Act, 2003 (COTPA). Tobacco Cessation centres had been established in all districts. Free counselling services and cessation medicines such as tablet Bupropion, Nicotine gums and patches were being provided in the centres. A total of 10,832 tobacco users had received services at these centres in 2020-21, he added.

The Minister said Punjab was a pioneer State to focus on youth by timely ban on e-cigarettes, hookah bars and by declaring colleges and universities as tobacco-free.

“Tobacco use is a major threat to public health globally. Smokeless tobacco users are prone to deadly diseases and early death; secondly users have a tendency to spit in public places, and therefore it increases health risks, especially by spreading infectious diseases like COVID-19,” he said.

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