Chandigarh, May 30
In a collaborative effort between the Chandigarh Health Department and the Postgraduate Institute of Medical Education and Research (PGIMER), plans are underway to transform Chandigarh into a tobacco-free city. The announcement was made by Yashpal Garg, Secretary Health, UT, during the culmination of a 6-km walkathon-cum-cyclothon from the PGI to Sukhna Lake held in commemoration of World No Tobacco Day.
Chandigarh was previously declared the first smoke-free city in India in 2007. However over time, the city lost this coveted status. Now, with the support of the virtual Resource Centre for Tobacco Control (e-RCTC) and various stakeholders, the authorities are determined to eliminate the menace of tobacco from society once and for all.
Speaking at the event, Garg praised the efforts of the RCTC in raising awareness among the general public about tobacco use and the importance of quitting. He emphasised the significance of collective efforts from all stakeholders in eradicating this harmful habit from the community.
The walkathon and cyclothon event witnessed the participation of nearly 600 individuals who either cycled or walked from the PGI to Sukhna Lake.
Dr Sonu Goel, Director of e-RCTC and Professor of the Department of Community Medicine and School of Public Health at PGI, highlighted the need for collaboration with the UT Administration to regain the city’s smoke-free status. Goel also emphasised the importance of sharing best practices in tobacco control from other states in India.
Goel said hookah smoking was not safer than cigarette smoking. Smoke from hookah contains numerous toxic chemicals. Electronic cigarettes, often perceived as harmless water vapour, actually contain nicotine and have been linked to respiratory and cardiovascular problems. He also emphasised that “beedis”, a type of hand-rolled cigarette, are not less harmful than regular cigarettes and carry similar health risks.
Ban on hookah bars
The UT recently imposed a comprehensive ban on the operation of hookah bars in the city by enforcing stricter punishment for defiance of the orders, including imprisonment up of to three years and a fine up to Rs 50,000. Earlier, hookah bars were banned through periodic orders issued by the district magistrate under Section 144 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC).
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