J&K emerging as the Smoking Capital of North India

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67.9 percent of adults consuming tobacco products

SRINAGAR:  Jammu and Kashmir is fast emerging as the ‘smoking capital’ of North India as the state’s cigarette consumption is almost double the incidence of the country’s 5.7 percent.  

 According to the Voluntary Health Association of India, Jammu and Kashmir has 12 percent cigarette smokers, 3.8 percent bidi smokers and 8.0 percent smokeless tobacco users. It has also come to light that J&K has the highest number of adults (67.9 percent) exposed to tobacco smoking.

The percentage of teen age smokers aged between 14-18 years in the state is nearly 21 percent, the percentage of smokers aged between 18-28 years is 32.7 percent and the percentage of smokers aged between 30- 60 years is nearly 42.8 percent. The percentage of smokers aged between 60- 80 years is 13.45 percent.

As per data, every third person in the state smokes tobacco products within the age of 18-60 years. The consumption is higher than the other states of India. The data also reveal that tobacco companies earn nearly 300 crore rupees annually and 40 lakhs per day in the state of Jammu and Kashmir. Independent estimates also say that in Kashmir valley alone as many as 19 hundred crore cigarettes are consumed every single month.

Under Prohibition of Advertisement and Regulation of Trade and Commerce, Production, Supply and Distribution Act (COTPA), 2003, the State government in 2014 announced that Srinagar district would be made as a model district for tobacco control. Under this act,  all public officials have been directed to adhere to the order. Under SRO 394 dated 3.12.2008 state government has authorized every Gazetted officer to compound offenses committed under section 4 of COPTA upto Rs 200 for each offense. But unfortunately, and despite this, the State has an increasing number of smokers than any state in India. Nothing has changed from the past five years. Instead,  J&K has become a model state for consuming the highest number of tobacco products.

Experts are of the opinion that the high consumption of tobacco products by the people in the state is because of bad policies and Kashmir has become a soft target of being branded as smoking state of India. Psychologists are of the view that due to continuous conflict in the state has made people prone to be addictive towards smoking. Psychologists also blame trendy fashions that young folks follow in order to get highlighted in the public space. The teens, in particular take to smoking by way of psychological inferiority and whole intuitional whether schools, colleges, NGOs and government representatives have failed at all levels in curbing smoking phenomena in J&K.

Amidst this worrying trend, a debate has been triggered whether PDP-BJP led coalition government, through its policies and decisions, is escalating development or deterioration which will be proven with time. For now the state is holding the number one spot in number of smokers among north Indian States.

 

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