Leader Writer: Hrishikesh Angom
Few days back IFP carried a story under the headline “Tobacco products sold openly inside Manipur University campus”. The story exposed the sale of tobacco products inside the campus of Manipur University by defying the prohibition imposed on the sale of such products around educational institutions. The Prohibition on Sale of Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products Around Educational Institution Rules, 2004 framed under section 6 of the Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products (Prohibition of Advertisement and Regulation of Trade and Commerce, Production, Supply and Distribution) Act, 2003 strictly prohibit the sale of tobacco products within 100 yards of any educational institution. However, such rules were violated inside the campus of this prestigious central university.
The Manipur University authority cannot simply give lame excuses for the violation of rules under the Tobacco Control Act. After all it is a central university and its standards should never be compromised. The prohibition on the sale of tobacco products around educational institutions has been imposed all over the country with the objective of making educational institutions tobacco-free. The Delhi High Court had even issued directives to the authority of Delhi University to set up nodal officers to check sale of tobacco products within 100 yards of their affiliated colleges. The scenario of anti-tobacco campaign has reached new heights in other parts of the country but it is yet to be started in our state. The public places in our state are filled with smokers and various other tobacco consumers who not only harm themselves but also pollute the surroundings. The Manipur University authority might have not taken the matter seriously but it should take up all measures to check the sale of tobacco products around the university campus. The anti-tobacco campaign may also possibly fail in the state if the intellectuals and experts at Manipur University go on allowing the sale of tobacco products inside the campus.
It seems that the people quite understand the harmfulness of tobacco, but in reality it is not so. The statutory warnings written on the packs of cigarettes or gutka cannot alone control tobacco in the country. The prohibition imposed on the sale of tobacco products to minors and around educational institutions is an effective way to control tobacco in the country. Anti-tobacco campaigns should be initiated at different levels in order to sensitize the people against the use of tobacco products which are carcinogenic in nature.
The health authority of the state should take up the needful step to control tobacco in the state. The public places should be made smoke free and all those who violate the rules should be penalized as per the Tobacco Control Act. Moreover, use of tobacco products could pose serious threat to health and so everyone should join the anti-tobacco campaign for creating a healthier and cleaner environment. The authority of educational institutions should also not allow the sale of tobacco products around their institutions. It would be unwise on the part of a premier educational institute of the state like Manipur University to simply allow the sale of tobacco products right inside the campus by ignoring the rules of Tobacco Control Act. The state can attain the tobacco-free status only with support and active participation of the youths and students.