Jorhat, Jan. 31: Jorhat's bid to become the first smoke-free district in the state hinges on the outcome of a survey to be carried out here by The Union, a global NGO, working in partnership with WHO against tobacco consumption and lung diseases.
The NGO has been entrusted with the job of conducting a survey on compliance of Section 4 of Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products Act ' Prohibition of Advertisement and Regulation of Trade and Commerce, Production, Supply and Distribution (COTPA) in the district. Section 4 of the act stipulates ban on smoking in public places.
Under the anti-tobacco law, if anyone is caught smoking in areas that qualify as public places, then fines ranging from Rs 20 to Rs 200 could be imposed for violating the law. Offices, shopping malls, airports, train and bus stations, hotels, cinema halls, hospitals, shops and restaurants have been described as public places under the law.
National Tobacco Control Programme (Assam) nodal officer Arundhati Deka, who is also the deputy director of health department, told The Telegraph today that the NGO has decided to conduct the survey next month through an independent agency in Jorhat district.
It will try to know about the impact of the anti-tobacco campaign carried out in the last four years after Jorhat was chosen by the NTPC out of 42 districts for a pilot project on the no-tobacco campaign. The second district was Kamrup (metro).
As the Union had been extending technical guidance to the people involved in the drive by capacity building and new plans to make the campaign an effective one.
, the NGO wanted to know about the impact of the drive.
Deka said for conducting a proper survey, the NGO has engaged Bosco Institute of Social Work under Dibrugarh University at Baghchung here to conduct the survey. The institute conducts a post-graduate course on social work.
She said on the basis of the findings of the survey, the state government could declare Jorhat the first smoke-free district, if the compliance level was found "highly satisfactory".
Deka said the government could consider such a proposal if the survey results showed that smoking in public places in the district had been "very low" and messages indicating no-smoking areas were properly displayed, in order to make it a model for other districts.
In May last year, the government had asked all districts to emulate Jorhat as a model to launch anti-tobacco campaigns.
Principal of the Bosco Institute of Social Work, Father Thomas Jerry, said preparations were on to conduct the survey by the faculty and students from the second week of February. He said it would be done according to the guidelines and briefing given by officials of the NGO from its New Delhi office, who visited the institute recently.
Fr Jerry said the surveyors would observe whether there were signboards put up on the prohibition of smoking in public places and whether the people adhered to the same. He said the survey data would be processed and findings likely to be ready by March 15.