The Delhi government's health department has appealed to the CBSE Director and the education department to derecognise schools which are not following the tobacco-free school guidelines. Dr S K Arora, Additional Director (health), said that they have been urging schools to adopt tobacco-free school guidelines as per its Tobacco Free Delhi initiative in a series of communications by implementing the various legal provisions of Cigarette and Other Tobacco Products Act (COTPA) 2003, and the Delhi Prohibition of Smoking and Non Smoker's Health Protection Act 1996. The provisions include identifying a nodal officer, mandatory display of tobacco-free zone boards and no-smoking signages along with contact details of nodal officers, ensuring prohibition of tobacco sale within a 100-metre radius of an education institute and the constitution of a tobacco- free school committee. It also calls for conducting special awareness and sensitisation programmes on the last day of every month and the nodal officer taking appropriate action in cases of violation. "It is worth mentioning that non compliance of above provisions may attract fine of Nodal Officer/Head of Institute as per COTPA 2003 and Delhi Act 1996," Arora said in his letter to letter to the CBSE Director and Delhi's education department. Arora said in the letter that 14.1 per cent students, up to the age 15 years, currently use tobacco products with 4.2 per cent students currently smoking cigarettes. Apart from this, the chewable tobacco use in various patterns is also increasing despite the fact that gutkha and chewable tobaccos are banned in Delhi, Arora said. Globally, most people start using tobacco or experiment with tobacco before the age of 18 years, this is the age when most people on finding a favourable environment for tobacco use have increased chances of getting addicted to tobacco products. Tobacco use is the gateway of other drug addiction, Arora said in the letter. As far as tobacco consumption among school staff, personnel is concerned, nearly 3 in 10 School personnel currently use tobacco and interestingly 84.1 per cent believed that tobacco use by school personnel influences youth tobacco use, he said. "In view of repeatedly circulated Tobacco Free School guidelines and existing act for last 21 years, if a school still does not follow or implement these guidelines to protect the children then the CBSE Accreditation or recognition from such schools should be withdrawn immediately apart from legal action as per COTPA 2003 & Delhi Act 1996," he said in the letter.
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