Kohima, March 6: Even as Nagaland stands seventh highest consumer of tobacco in the entire country, the initiatives of National Tobacco Control Programme (NTCP) Nagaland is helping villages to move towards achieving “Tobacco Free” status.
Launched in 2010, the consistent awareness campaigns conducted under the schemes has till date transformed 12 villages in different districts of the State to be “tobacco free village”, stated State Nodal Officer NTCP and Joint Director Department of Health and Family Welfare, Dr Hotokhu Chishi during the declarations of three villages in Tseminyu sub-division of Kohima district as Tobacco Free village at Nsunyu village, Tseminyu Kohima today.
He said with today’s declaration of Nsunyu, Chunlikha and Likhwenchu villages, Kohima district has the highest number of Tobacco Free villages at 7 villages.
Dimapur and Zunheboto has two villages each while Wokha has one village declared as Tobacco Free village and rest of the 8 districts don’t have any such villages, he said.
The coming together of the three villages to attain Tobacco Free status should be an example for the rest of the over 1400 villages in the State, Dr Chishi.
Stating that in Nagaland village councils have the right to frame internal administrative customary and traditional laws, he encouraged these villages to uphold and stand firm on the declaration.
Village Council Chairman of Chunlikha, Zukeya Woch while sharing on the initiative of village councils and NGOs on Tobacco Free Movement said that there were eight pan shops in the village but considering the harmful effect of consuming tobacco the Church elders proposed for banning sale of tobacco in the three villages.
The proposal was accepted by the councils of the villages and resolved that they would extend support towards availing avenues for the survival of those running the pan shops.
The decision to declare Tobacco Free Villages was adopted on January 1, 2019, he informed adding that “citizens of the three villages used to spend around Rs 30-40 lakh annually on tobacco consumption, but with the decision we hope to improve not only the health but the economy of the villagers”.
He also said that those found selling tobacco within the jurisdiction of the villages would be imposed Rs 3000 fine as first instance, Rs 5000 for second default and if caught for third time would dealt serious to the extent of cancelation of trade license and suspension from the village.
Additional Deputy Commissioner of Tseminyu, Nokchasashi lauded the efforts of the three villages stating that there are rules under Cigarette and Other Tobacco Products Act banning consumption and sale of tobacco products but due to lack of implementing agency it cannot be enforced strictly.
He said that Village Councils are auxiliary to district administration and such decisions would help proper enforcement of the rules.
After the formal programme, the gathering took no smoking pledge, promising not to smoke or use tobacco products now and forever.
Besides taking pledge to always try to stay away from second hand smoke, the gathering also vowed to do their best to encourage people who do smoking or use tobacco products to quit smoking and using tobacco products and “will do my best to support them as they try to quit.”
Kohima District Nodal Officer for NTCP, Dr Arenla Thong dwelling on community sensitization said that both forms of tobacco – smoking and smokeless are harmful not only to the consumer but also to those around them.
Children of parents using tobacco are in danger of picking up the habit at an early stage, she said, adding that tobacco consumption ultimately leads to cancer ruining the economy of the family. (Page News Service)