PANAJI: National Organisation for Tobacco Eradication (NOTE) secretary, Dr Shekhar Salkar urged Chief Minister Dr Pramod Sawant to make budgetary allocation for various initiatives proposed in the interest of the students and adolescent population in the state to curb the menace of smoking cigarette and consumption of other tobacco products.
“Statistics have proven that there is a decrease in consumption of tobacco products in Goa. In 1984, the percentile consumption of tobacco products was 32% to 35% which has been brought down to 10% in current scenario, this result has been achieved due to combined efforts of NGOs, goverment, bureaucrats and media and support from the people of Goa,” states a press release by NOTE-India secretary, Dr Shekhar Salkar.
“In India as per studies undertaken, 40-45% of total cancer load are oral cavity cancers linked to tobacco consumption. In the state of Goa, it is limited at 25% so it’s clear that we have been successful in bringing down oral cavity cancers in Goa by almost 20%.”
NOTE India has proposed draft legislations for conceptualising and implementing Vendor Licensing laws based on COTPA 2003 Act. The draft is pending legal scrutiny and once enacted by urban local bodies and panchayats will regularise sale of tobacco products. Strict vigilance and dedicated point of sale will discourage access of cigarettes and other tobacco products especially to children and youngsters.
Dr Salkar also briefed the chief minister on the Tobacco-Free Educational Institute (TOFEI) initiative for apoximately 1550 schools across Goa. “The aim of this activity is to make all educational institutes in Goa compliant to the anti-tobacco rules and set in place tools to monitor children are kept away from tobacco and allied products. The said activity shall be executed by NGOs in the field of tobacco awareness and requested to make budgetary provision for proper implementation through NGO,” adds the press release.
NOTE India has also urged Dr Sawant to levy an additional luxury tax of 15 to 20 percent on cigarette and beedies as studies have shown that increase in price has adverse effect on sale of cigarette and other tobacco products. It is an immediate result yielding step to decrease sale but yet such step not only acts as an deterrent on consumption of cigarette and tobacco products but also generate additional revenue for the state.
Dr Salkar concluded that It is of utmost importance that the state government ropes in NGOs and experts to address the issue of tobacco consumption which is the leading cause of various cancers and health ailments specially in students and adolescent age-group. “The chief minister has assured complete support for the cause,” reads the press communique.