In a concerning revelation, tobacco use in Rajasthan is claimed to be responsible for a staggering 240 deaths daily. Alarming reports indicate a surge in cigarette smoking among the youth, with Udaipur witnessing a rise in the popularity of e-cigarettes and hookahs. Dr. Pranav Bhavsar, the Nodal Officer of the District Tobacco Control Cell, expressed grave concerns during a pivotal meeting held on Tuesday, February 6, 2024, as part of the National Tobacco Control Program.
Shockingly, lack of enforcement by authorities, particularly the police, exacerbates the situation. Dr. Bhavsar emphasized the urgent need for stringent measures to combat the escalating trend, citing vendors non-compliance with the COTPA Act as a significant contributing factor.
Key deficiencies highlighted during the meeting include the absence of warning boards outside tobacco vendor shops and a lack of enforcement of fines for tobacco use in public spaces. Calls for immediate action were directed towards the police department, urging them to enforce regulations effectively. Efforts to mitigate the crisis include the observance of Tobacco Prohibition Day on the last day of every month, where the sale of tobacco is banned. It is noteworthy that in previous years, shops selling tobacco were also closed on this day due to the ban, underscoring the severity of the situation.
At the district-level coordination committee meeting convened at the Collectorate Auditorium, Dr. Shankar Lal Bamaniya, the Chief Medical and Health Officer (CMHO), expressed deep concern over the alarming death rates in the state. Dr. Ankit Jain, the Deputy CMHO, stressed the imperative for coordinated efforts across various sectors, including health, police, education, municipal regulations, labour, sales and food and drug departments, to address the rising issue.
The dire situation demands immediate and concerted action from all stakeholders to curb the tobacco epidemic and prevent further loss of lives in Rajasthan.