SRINAGAR: J&K Voluntary Health Association (JKVHA) Friday said urged the government to take serious measures to reduce the consumption of tobacco products in the state.
In a statement, JKVHA executive director A M Mir, who chaired a meeting held with the civil society groups, said that ‘Global Adult Tobacco Survey’ (GATS) of Jammu and Kashmir indicates that 26.6 percent population here was using tobacco products, in one form or the other.
“Our state has 12 percent cigarette smokers, 3.8 percent bidi smokers and 8.0 percent smokeless tobacco users.”
He said that cigarette use prevalence in the state was 12 percent. “The highest proportion of adults 67.9 percent are exposed to tobacco smoke in offices and other public places in J&K as compared to 15.4 percent in Chandigarh.”
He said that burden of cigarette smoking and tobacco use for JK was very high. “Eight lakh people will die untimely death due to serious illnesses, heart attacks, pulmonary diseases and cancer. 15 lakh people will protract cancer because of tobacco usage in the state and currently, the state has been labeled as the lung cancer capital of India.”
He said that the members of civil society, coalition partner NGO and volunteers of Kashmir valley must apprise the government about the serious consequences caused by the hazards of smoking and use of various forms of tobacco products in the state for appropriate measures to reduce its consumption.
“The NGO members have proposed to appeal the state government to raise VAT on all forms of tobacco products from 40 percent to 70 percent in the larger interests of public health.”
This will greatly reduce the consumption and save vulnerable young people from this menace, he added.
The members of NGOs who supported this appeal included JKVHA, Sahara, Wings, Human Welfare, Escorts, Aman, World Health Environment, Women’s Empowerment, Literacy Institute, Rehmat Social Welfare, Dilshad, Green Kashmir, Cultural Education, Sheikh-ul-Aalam Welfare and Women and Child