The use of tobacco in Bihar has assumed an alarming proportion. According to the Global Adult Tobacco Survey (GATS)-India, 54 per cent of the population in Bihar consume tobacco in one form or the other. The most common form being smokeless consumed by nearly 49 per cent of adults. India is the oral cancer capital of the world, 90 per cent of which are attributed to tobacco use. Smokeless tobacco use is the major cause of oral cancer in the country.
Under a grant from the Bloomberg Initiative (BI) to reduce tobacco use, an NGO Hriday (Health Related Information Dissemination Amongst Youth) is implementing a project entitled, ‘Awareness to Action through Multi-Channel Advocacy for Effective Tobacco Control in India: Capacity Building in Five Indian States’. The states are: Bihar, Haryana, Orissa, Karnataka and Uttarakhand. Hriday has partnered with the Socio Economic and Educational Development Society (Seeds) and the State Health Society (SHS), Bihar, to implement the project in five districts of the state, Bhojpur, Darbhanga, Katihar, Samastipur and Vaishali, and two districts under the National Tobacco Control Programme (NTCP), Patna and Munger.
The collaborative effort has resulted in a number of positive developments in advancing tobacco control in the state. The state government has accordingly set up administrative infrastructure for an effective implementation of the Control of Tobacco Products Act (COTPA) provisions and NTCP objectives which includes appointment of nodal officers for tobacco control in all the 38 districts. SHS, Bihar, executive director (ED) Sanjay Kumar said, “The nodal officers will be responsible for coordinating all the tobacco control activities in their districts.” He has also given a directive to form a steering committee under the chairmanship of the DM of the district concerned.
The state HRD department has issued notification to the district education officers of all the 38 districts to declare action programme to make schools in their districts free of tobacco. The schools would have to ensure that apart from the schools concerned, the nearby areas are also free of tobacco as per the guidelines of the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE). That apart, principal secretary, health department, Amarjeet Sinha said that a State Tobacco Control Coordination Committee (STCCC) has been constituted for effective implementation of the programme.
Under the programme, the SSPs of the districts concerned and range DIGs have been entrusted to oversee that the COTPA is properly implemented, besides conducting surprise checks at hotels, restaurants, government/private buildings and public transport. Kumar said that civil surgeons in all the 38 districts have been directed to print slogan, ‘Choose Life Not Tobacco’, on all the OPD slips for raising awareness among people about tobacco control. For the first time in the state, a capacity building workshop for the state police officials would be held here on December 2.