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Smoking kills: Over 23 percent population hooked to tobacco products in valley

Srinagar:  A quarter of the valley’s population is hooked to the destructive habit of tobacco consumption.

Official data of Global Adult Tobacco Survey (GATS) accessed by The Kashmir Monitor reveal that 23.7 percent population of Jammu and Kashmir is using tobacco products in one form or the other. Over 20.8 percent is in the grip of smoking while rest is addicted to smokeless tobacco use.

 

Similarly, the valley has recorded tobacco sales worth Rs 5,530 crore over last seven years.

An official of the J&K Tobacco Control said huge prevalence of tobacco uses, especially smoking stems from the fact that Kashmir has become a highly stressful zone.

“People not only face challenges associated with daily life, but looming uncertainty and vagaries of weather. When people experience anxiety and stress, they tend to manage the unpleasant feelings by resorting to the use of substances such as tobacco,” he said.

The official termed widespread social acceptance to smoking as a major challenge to Kashmiri society.

“Smoking is not seen as a taboo. Plus there is easy availability. Cigarettes are readily being sold in every nook and corner,” he said.

 The official blamed lack of coordination between various departments responsible for not implementing tobacco control laws in letter and spirit.

“Another problem is that supply supersedes the demand. This industry is so huge that it is not so easy to block the ever increasing supply,” the official stressed.

Director Health Services Kashmir, Sameer Mattoo said the implementation of provisions under the Cigarette and other Tobacco Act, 2003 (COTPA) remains a challenge. 

“There should be a greater awareness on it. Also the National Tobacco Control Programmes need to be extended to all the districts of J&K. Tobacco kills should be ingrained in the mind of every person,” Matto said

Project coordinator Jammu and Kashmir, State Tobacco Control Cell, Dr Mohammad Naser noted that vendor licensing should be regulated. “With proper legal framework in place, we will allot license to selected people. This will subsequently limit the number of vendors and also help us in monitoring the violations,” Dr Naser said.