About 20 million school students in Bihar Wednesday took a pledge that they would never consume tobacco or related products, and would encourage their family and friends to do the same, an official said.
"Over 20 million students of around 2.2 lakh government and private schools vowed that they would never consume tobacco or related products in their lives," A.A. Hai, an official of the Cancer Awareness Society here, said.
Bihar Deputy Chief Minister Sushil Kumar Modi administered the oath at the sprawling Gandhi Maidan to students from 30 schools on the occasion of 'Pledge Day' observed in the state Nov 7.
Similar functions were organised in other school campuses across the state, said an official of Indian Red Cross Society.
"It is a positive initiative by the government to create awareness among school students on tobacco products," Indian Medical Association state president A.K. Thakur said.
Hai said the latest studies reveal that many children in Bihar, as young as Class Four students, take to smoking or consuming gutkha, the chewing tobacco-laced betel-nut preparation.
"The drive aims to make school students understand the risk of using tobacco and importance of staying away from tobacco to ensure healthy life," he said.
Of the 10.5 crore people in Bihar, nearly 53.5 percent consume tobacco or related products. The national average is 35 percent.
"Smokeless (chewing) tobacco product 'khaini' is a popular tobacco product used by millions in Bihar, followed by gutkha," Thakur said.
Last year, a survey by the Global Adult Tobacco Survey (India) revealed that 63 percent men and 35 percent women in Bihar consume smokeless tobacco.