District Tobacco Control Initiatives for Smoke Free
The VHAI PAT & APPLE Project (Partnership Against Tobacco and Action for Politics, Policies, Legislation and Empowerment) is currently in the fourth phase and is supported by the Union. It aims at significantly strengthening and up scaling tobacco control initiatives and declaring Smoke Free districts in two states of India i.e. Jammu & Kashmir and Odisha. The project is currently being implemented in eight identified districts including the state capital district which are as follows-
• J&K – Baramulla, Pulwama, Jammu and Reasi.
• Odisha – Cuttack, Ganjam, Khurdha and Puri.
The VHAI team at New Delhi acts as the central unit and works towards providing the necessary leadership and mentoring to the state partners for the implementation of the project activities and achievement of the objectives. The overall goal is to declare these districts smoke free following the project interventions:
1. Supporting the constitution of functional District Tobacco Control Cells/steering/monitoring committee under district administration, and assist in setting up mechanism for enforcement, monitoring, reporting and evaluation within districts and at block and panchayat levels.
2. Building the capacity of government officials and other stakeholders on the tobacco control law and inform the local media at district and block levels to strengthen enforcement towards achieving smoke free and section 6 (b) compliance at districts, blocks and panchayat level.
In order to achieve these, multi-level and multi-faceted strategies are adopted like
• Capacity building of various stakeholders for e.g. law enforcement officials, in charge of public places, civil society organizations, health workers, media groups, education institution in-charges, identified volunteer group.
• Conducting mass awareness campaigns.
• Advocacy and liaison with senior officials of the district administration in order to highlight the importance of the law and to draw their attention to urgent need for action.
• Providing technical support for improved enforcement, monitoring and compliance of the TC Laws to the district administration and other agencies.
Major achievements till now
• Conducted sensitization workshops for all the district level officials in all the 8 project districts. As a result, there is increased awareness and commitment from these officials.
• Tobacco Control Steering Committees are active in all the project districts.
• Enforcement drives to ensure compliance has begun in Pulwama, Jammu, Khordha, Ganjam and Puri districts.
• Enforcement squads have been constituted and activated up till the block levels in Jammu, Reasi and Pulwama districts.
• There had been good media support and coverage in both the project states.
• Orders had been issued by the District administration, Education department and Municipal Corporations for implementation of section 4 and 6 of COTPA in all the districts.
• More than 1500 Block Level officials have been sensitized till date.
• More than 4000 identified volunteers like NCC, NSS, teachers, health workers, members of civil society organizations have been oriented to carry the message forward into the community.