Shimla, July 2 (IANS) Health Minister Kaul Singh Tuesday declared Himachal Pradesh "smoke-free" and stressed the need to make the drive against smoking more intensive.
"It is difficult to change society as a whole but not impossible. The government has achieved its goal in making the state smoke free," said the minister at a function here.
He said that Himachal Pradesh, the second hill state after Sikkim, had been declared smoke-free in compliance with Section 4 of the Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Product Act (COTPA) of 2003 in surveys done by Indira Gandhi Medical College, the Department of Community Medicine and the Population Research Centre of Himachal Pradesh University.
Under the provisions of the act, smoking in public places is compeltely banned.
The minister said 2,500 out of the 3,243 panchayats had complied with the COTPA provisions.
Apart from this, 57 development blocks also passed resolutions to be smoke-free.
Singh said that in its 2013-14 budget, the state government had enhanced tax on 'bidis' from existing 11 to 22 percent and on cigarettes from 18 to 36 percent. There was also a provision of four percent VAT on both 'bidis' and cigarettes.