In its efforts to turn all the schools into tobacco-free zones, Directorate of School Education Kashmir (DSEK) has directed all Chief Education Officers (CEOs) to ensure complete ban on sale of tobacco products within one hundred yards from the school premises.
"To safeguard the health of school children from the menace of tobacco products, all CEOs are directed to ensure complete ban on sale of tobacco products to minors in all the educational institutions," the Directorate said in an order issued here.
The CEOs have been asked to submit a monthly report to DSEK for follow up with a copy to the respective Deputy Commissioners as well. The order has come into force with immediate effect. The order also directed the CEOs to ensure compliances under Section 6 (a), (b) of COTPA Act 2003 and direct all institutions to display 'No Smoking' sign boards besides guarantee monitoring and reporting mechanism.
"It is heartening to see that Education Department is coming forward to protect the health of children in Jammu and Kashmir by supporting COTPA enforcement," said Afzal Makhdoomi, J&K Consultant for Tobacco Control, Voluntary Health Association of India, (VHAI).
As per Section 6 of Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products (Prohibition of Advertisement and Regulation of Trade and Commerce, Production, Supply and Distribution) Act, 2003 (COTPA), there is ban on the sale of tobacco to and by minors and prohibition on sale of tobacco products within 100 yards of educational institutions.
According to Global Youth Tobacco Survey (GYTS) carried out by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW), Government of India conducted amongst the students in India, 14.6 percent of 13 –15 year old students are using tobacco in India.
"Of those, 8.1 percent of students smoked tobacco. As many as 11 percent of all male students surveyed were found to be users of smoking or smokeless tobacco, while 6 percent of female students used smokeless tobacco and 3.7 percent smoked tobacco," the SYTS survey said.