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Bid to make State educational institutes tobacco-free zones
Staff Reporter

 GUWAHATI, June 5 - With an aim to prevent schoolchildren from falling prey to tobacco products, the State Education Department has directed the heads of all the educational institutes to make their campuses tobacco-free.

 This is a part of an initiative taken up jointly by Tata Education Trust, Healis-Sekhsaria Institute for Public Health and Education Department of Assam. The Secretary, Secondary Education, RC Jain and Preetom Saikia, Commissioner and Secretary for Elementary Education have issued the orders for their respective schools.

There will be surveillance for this campaign and officials concerned will investigate and report on it. In India, 5,500 children (as per a report) use of tobacco every day, some from age of eight years become addicted. In Assam, 140 children use tobacco everyday – it is an alarming fact.

A statement also said there has been a heavy burden in the middle and lower class people due to tobacco-induced diseases. According to a study in 2014, Rs 541 crore was spent as healthcare costs for people of 35-69 year age group because of tobacco-induced diseases.

Speaking on the launch of the initiative today, Director of Dr B Borooah Cancer Institute and patron of VoTV (Voice of Tobacco Victims), Dr Amal Kataki said that 90 per cent of oral cancers are tobacco related. Indian Council of Medical Research’s report brought the fact into the light that the cause of cancer in 50 per cent of male and 25 per cent of female is tobacco, 90 per cent of which is oral cancer.

According to the latest data of cancer patient registry, among the total cancer patients in Kamrup Metro, 49.7 per cent male and 24.1 per cent female got cancer as a result of tobacco consumption. Of the cancer patients in Dibrugarh, 51.6 per cent male and 22.8 per cent female were result of tobacco consumption. Sanjay Seth, Chief of Operations, Healis-Sekhsaria Institute for Public Health, said, “This initiative in addition to providing a safe campus for children will also provide a clean environment as tobacco products are largest cause of litter.”

In Assam more than 29,000 people die every year due to tobacco related diseases. As per the Global Adult Tobacco Survey (2010), 85 lakh people consume tobacco in one form or other in Assam (52.6 per cent males and 25.3 per cent females consume tobacco).

Ashima Sarin, Project Director, Voice of Tobacco Victims (VoTV) and Partha Patwari representing Tata Education Trust were also present on the occasion.

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