Jammu and Kashmir spends more than other states on tobacco products

Srinagar: People in Jammu and Kashmir are spending more than the national average on smoking tobacco products even as nearly 70 percent of adults are exposed to passive smoking in their homes in the state, according to a survey.

“The state’s monthly spending on smoking tobacco so far outstrips the national monthly expenditure average. While nationally, smokers aged 15 and above spend Rs 399.20 a month on cigarettes and Rs 93.40 on bidis, those in Jammu and Kashmir spend Rs 513.60 and Rs 134.20, respectively, on these tobacco forms,” Voluntary Health Association of India (VHAI) said quoting the Global Adult Tobacco Survey (GATS).

Consequently, health hazards due to passive smoking are also more in Jammu and Kashmir than elsewhere in the north.

The survey reveals that 26.6 per cent population of the state is using tobacco products in some form and the average age of daily initiation of tobacco use is 17.3 years.

“It has come to light that the highest proportion of adults in J-K (69.7 per cent) are exposed to tobacco smoke at home. 67.9 per cent of adults are exposed to tobacco smoke at workplaces and 35.2 per cent of adults are exposed to tobacco smoke in public places,” the survey reveals.

According to the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare data, nearly 37 per cent children in India get initiated into smoking before the age of 10 and each day, 5500 children begin tobacco use.

“The findings of these studies highlight the need for targeted interventions among youth in general and students in particular, especially given the marketing overdrive of the tobacco industry to promote the use of tobacco among youth,” Director Programmes VHAI Seema Gupta said.

The Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products Act (COTPA), Tobacco Control Act enacted in 2003, applicable to the entire country, was mainly to discourage consumption of tobacco products through progressive restrictions and to protect non-smokers from passive smoking.

The Tobacco Control Law prohibits smoking in public places, ban on the Advertisement, Promotion and Sponsorship of all Tobacco Products and ban on the sale of tobacco to and by minors and prohibition on sale of tobacco products within 100 yards of educational institutions.

The implementation of COTPA is best done when the system or mechanism is institutionalized.

“It is heartening to see that government of Jammu and Kashmir is coming forward to protect the health of people by supporting COTPA enforcement. The state should set an example thereby banning smoking in public places, banning tobacco advertisements at point of sale and banning the sale of tobacco products near educational institutions.

“With all these measures, the government can safeguard the health of the people, especially children and women, across the state,” Consultant Tobacco Control, VHAI, Afzal Mukhdoomi said.

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