Himachal Pradesh has made a niche for doing a great job in tobacco control by having achieved the target of making all the district headquarters in the State smoke free. Himachal Pradesh’s good performance has been well recognized at International level and State has been conferred WHO- South East Asia Regional Office (SEARO’s) Award-2012 by World Health Organisation (WHO) for its outstanding achievements in Anti Tobacco campaign.
The State Government is taking many steps through awareness and law enforcement to do away with tobacco use. The State Government has constituted State/District level coordination and monitoring committee to monitor effective implementation of the program and law.
Also, anti- tobacco campaign is underway jointly by Health, Police and Education Department, NGOs and PRIs to ensure ban on sale of tobacco products within 100 yards of educational institutions and effective ban will likely be ensured by Gandhi Jayanti this year.
As Himachal Pradesh is not covered in the National Tobacco Program, no financial assistance is provided by the Central Government to the State for tobacco control. In spite of the challenges, the State Government took various initiatives for tobacco control, which are being replicated in other States of the country and appreciated at International level too. Shimla City was declared Smoke free by Chief Minister of Himachal Pradesh on 2ndOctober, 2010 after compliance of Smoke free rules more than 90%.
Tashijong village in Kangra district has been declared as first Tobacco Free village in the Country.
As per the policies laid down by the WHO for effective control known as MPOWER, which stands for Monitor tobacco use, Protect people, Offer help to quit, Warn people about dangers of tobacco, Enforce the law, Raise the taxes, the state Government has been taking all the steps to implement the policies.
The State Government has been conducting various surveys to monitor tobacco use from time to time. The State Government has conducted 3 surveys in last three years for compliance of smoke free rules. Massive awareness campaigns have been started in the State upto Gram Panchayat and village level.
Drug de-addiction centres (Tobacco Cessation) have been established in all district hospitals with three bedded facilities. Tobacco Cessation facilities will be extended to block level soon. So far 42,591 persons were fined in the State for smoking in public places during last three years and a fine of Rs. 55 lakh was collected from them and 137 cases were referred to the Courts. The funds collected are being used for anti-tobacco activities in the State. State has increased tax on tobacco products to reduce consumption of tobacco as a mandate of WHO Tobacco control policies.
Delegates of WHO would visit the State shortly to study the impact of smoke free policies and replicate Himachal success model in other parts of the country. Keeping in view the concerted efforts of the Government, the day is not far when Himachal will achieve highest level of compliance in anti- tobacco campaign.