• June 24, 2024

Smoke-free in Kashmir

 Smoke-free in Kashmir

The government of the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) has achieved a major success against tobacco with the Ladakh region’s Leh district having been declared a tobacco-free zone, according to a story by Samaan Lateef for the Chandigarh Tribune.

With the aim of making Kashmir a smoke-free region, the Directorate of Health Services Kashmir (DHSK) under the National Tobacco Control Programme (NTCP) started an anti-tobacco campaign in Leh early this year.

“Due to mass awareness and meetings with civil society members, religious and women[’s] groups, we have been successful in making Leh a tobacco-free zone,” Dr. Rehana Kousar, who is in-charge of the NTCP, Kashmir, reportedly told The Tribune.

However, Kousar said a major success was achieved because of the involvement of women in the anti-tobacco campaign. “The Women’s Alliance is a strong lobby for social change in Leh and its members made the difference in making the region free of tobacco,” she said.

The department had conducted more than 30 awareness camps in schools to ensure the campaign had a long-term impact on Leh society, Kousar said.

And she added that tobacco vendors had been ‘sanitized to stop the sale of tobacco, particularly to minors and around schools’.

According to official data, the incidence of tobacco use in J&K is 26.6 percent, a figure that is said to include cigarette smokers (12.0 percent) and bidi smokers (3.8 percent).

Of the total tobacco users, 41.6 percent are men and 10.3 percent are women.

The average age at the daily initiation of tobacco use is 17.3 years.

Spurred on by the success in Leh, the health department is all set to replicate the campaign in other districts.

DHSK director Dr Saleem-ur Rehman said the anti-tobacco campaign would cover other areas for which public support was needed. “It is not only assignment and motivation of enforcement agencies, but ensuring public awareness and political will to ensure [a] tobacco-free Kashmir,” Rehman said.