World No Tobacco Day and Sikkim

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Sikkim was declared a Smoke Free State since 31st of May 2010. That made the Queen of Himalayas India’s First “Smoke Free State”. The implementation of the provisions of ban in public place has been effective and we have been hearing that from tourists who visit Sikkim.

It was a significant development for a state to take such a bold step especially in the background of the stories of Haryana where Bansilal lost power due to banning of liquor.

Due to sudden implementation of liquor ban in Haryana by Bansilal’s government in 1996, thousands lost job and livelihood. And almost overnight, illicit brewing and liquor smuggling became one of the biggest industries in the state. Haryana’s tourism industry suffered badly as tourists preferred to visit neighboring states where there was no prohibition. The ban cost the state treasury Rs 12 billion.

It was a disaster for Haryana.

Sikkim has been able to manage the transition to a smoke free Sikkim comparatively far well.

There has been a legal ban on smoking in public places by the Union government for quite long. Sikkim begun with increasing awareness among the people about the harmful effects of smoking actively since 2009 with the objective to make Sikkim a ‘smoke free’ State by the end of 2009. The Sikkim government launched public awareness campaigns across the State to sensitise the people before implementing the ban. It went on to implement the laws prohibiting cigarette smoking in public places from February that year, and launched a crackdown on the offenders later. It also delayed the actual implementation of making the state Smoke Free by almost 6 month.

An anti-smoling awareness campaign in Sikkim (Photo

An anti-smoling awareness campaign in Sikkim (Photo

In 2009, 20 per cent of school students in Sikkim smoke cigarettes and another 46 per cent of students chewed tobacco. Tobacco consumption has been the major reason for non-communicable diseases which cause 74 per cent of the deaths in Sikkim.

The gradual approach to implement a ban which would ultimately benefit Sikkim, its people and environment has been a success. Sikkim didn’t face any major revenue loss and people have voluntarily accepted the ban.

World Tobacco Day

In 1987, the World Health Organization (WHO) called for the observance of World Tobacco Day (WNTD) annually on May 31. 22 years down the line, the message remains the same: The global epidemic of tobacco use and its ill effects on health.

This year’s WNTD theme is “The WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO FCTC).” It is the first treaty towards the advancement of public health. In force since 2005, it has since been signed by 170 countries.

The message is loud and clear: Over five million people die every year from tobacco-related illness, and some 600,000 people, including children, die from exposure to secondhand smoke, even though they may never have smoked a single cigarette. Secondhand smoke is more dangerous than actual smoking because one could inhale the toxin deposits of a smoker.

The whole idea of World No Tobacco Day and of a Smoke Free State like Sikkim is one motivation: Quit smoking, live longer and help create a cleaner and greener society of good habits which cares for all.



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