National Organisation for Tobacco Eradication India (NOTE) welcomed the instructions issued by the Union Health Ministry directing educational institutes to designate "Tobacco Monitors" from among students and staff in a bid to boost the implementation of tobacco control initiatives among adolescents.
The press release issued by Secretary NOTE Dr Shekhar Salkar said, "NOTE India welcomes the initiative of the Union health ministry issuing an instruction to all educational institutions to designate tobacco monitors from among their staff or a student representative (from class IX onwards). The name, designation and phone numbers of tobacco monitors should also be mentioned on signages displayed at institution premises."
The release said, "Under the revised guidelines for 'Tobacco-free Educational Institutions', the ministry will also award a 'TOFEI' (Tobacco-free educational institution) certificate to those institutes who are found to have equal or more than the benchmark score after verifying the implementation of norms."
"The guidelines call for educational institution management to ensure that no tobacco product is sold inside premises and in an area within 100 yards from the premises and any violation in this regard is reported to the National Quitline at 1800-11-2356," it added.
"The management should also, if possible, with the help of local law enforcement authorities and community, including parents, make efforts to stop such sales. It may be noted that the head of the institution is also authorised to collect fines for violation of section 6 (B) -- the sale of tobacco products within 100 yards of an institution," the recommendations of the ministry said.
The release further said, "Note India is extremely happy that Ministry has said that schools and students must not participate in any event sponsored by any firm or a subsidiary of a firm or a seller which promotes the use of or manufactures or sells tobacco products in any form. Educational institutions and students should not also accept any prize or scholarship instituted by such firms."
The guidelines from the ministry said, "Multiple tobacco monitors may be designated and in fact, it might be a good idea to do so. For example, the appointment of a tobacco monitor for each class from among students in the class. Participation of most important stakeholder, the students of secondary school would be key to a successful implementation of the initiative," the guidelines stated.
The ministry asked institutions to ensure tobacco users are not designated as tobacco monitors and stressed that management and tobacco monitors must also be vigilant to note tobacco substitutes such as e-cigarettes and devices like heat-not-burn devices, Vape, and flavoured hookah are not used.
"These products are usually marketed as being safer alternatives for conventional cigarettes but such a notion of safety is false. There is evidence that these products induce adolescents and young adults to nicotine use leading to addiction. Any use of such products on the campus may be reported to the Quitline," the recommendations said.
"It looks like ministry is proactive now and we appreciate such directives from government to schools", added the release.
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