BENGALURU: The Central Board for Secondary Education (CBSE) has asked institutions affiliated to it not to participate in any events sponsored by tobacco companies.
In a circular, it has mandatorily asked all the affiliated institutions to display tobacco warning sign boards and not allow students to participate in any of the events sponsored by such companies.
It has asked schools to strictly follow WHO guidelines and said, “Tobacco promoting firms are finding innovative ways to get involved with schools and school children.” The schools should make sure that such incidents do not recur.
It has also warned that schools must not use brand names, emblems, logos, trademarks or any other kind of feature directly or indirectly connected with tobacco products.
Commenting on the move, Dr U S Vishal Rao, consultant oncologist, head and neck, HCG Hospital, Bengaluru, said, “It is indeed very encouraging to see that CBSE is taking concrete steps to protect students from the growing tobacco addiction. Imposing high penalties on institutions that do not conform to its tobacco-free guidelines will go a long way in ensuring compliance.”
Dr Vishal further said, “For many youngsters, drug addiction starts with tobacco consumption. Nowadays, most of the cancer patients are of the age group of 20 to 30.”
The cancer surgeon also lauded the state’s Education Department as it has already initiated some good steps against tobacco use.
“In fact, the department has incorporated Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products Act (COTPA) monitoring in its online reporting system. This would help save lakhs of young lives. We urge the Principal Secretary, Education, Government of Karnataka, to ensure that all education institutions in the state follow the CBSE guidelines immediately,” he added.
According to the Global Youth Tobacco Survey (GYTS), carried out by the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, 14.6 per cent of 13- to 15-year-old students are using tobacco. Of those, 8.1 per cent of students smoked tobacco. As many as 11 per cent of all male students surveyed were found to be users of smoking or smokeless tobacco while 6 per cent of female students used smokeless tobacco and 3.7 per cent smoked tobacco.
According to the ministry, nearly 37 per cent children start smoking before the age of 10. And it is estimated that about 5,500 children begin tobacco use daily in India.
The ministry has issued guidelines for “tobacco-free schools” which have been sent to Education Secretaries of all states/Union Territories for adoption by schools in their respective states. CBSE has already adopted these guidelines and is encouraging their implementation in its affiliated schools and levying strict penalties of up to `1 lakh or six-month imprisonment for violations.