SRINAGAR: A delegation of Voluntary Health Association of India (VHAI) called on the Chief Minister, Mehbooba Mufti, at her residence, here this evening.
During the meeting, the Chief Minister discussed with the Director VHAI, Seema Gupta, various measures required to be taken for comprehensive implementation of COPTA (Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products Act) at the state-level and creating more smoke-free settings. She said her government will show greater intent in discouraging use of tobacco products, as it exposes people to the grave risk of lung cancer.
The Chief Minister also sought support of VHAI in generating mass awareness about hazards of tobacco smoking, which has shown an alarming upward trend in J&K. She asked the organization to liaise with the State Information Department so that both print and electronic media are roped in to protect people from the menace of smoking.
Seema Gupta requested the Chief Minister for creation of an Anti-Smoking Fund so that targeted interventions are made to protect women and children from falling prey to passive smoking. VHAI, she said will offer any technical support required by the government in making its anti-tobacco drives successful.
Director VHAI also indicated tobacco-tax increase as an effective way of reducing smoking and other tobacco use. She also appreciated the State government for imposing a tax of 40% on tobacco products, describing it as a win-win situation for states as they work to balance the budgets while preserving essential services.
The Chief Minister assured the delegation of taking all out measures to protect the health of people by strictly enforcing COTPA. She also gave directions to police for immediate removal of illegal billboards and advertisements from city centres and banning sale of tobacco products near educational institutions.
Also present in the meeting were President, J&K Voluntary Health & Development Association, A. M. Mir, reputed physician, Dr. G. Q. Allaqaband and Media Advisor, VHAI, Shafat Kira.
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