Tobacco Free West Bengal Campaign requests the Govt. of West Bengal to declare all healthcare facilities as tobacco-free zones under COTPA 2003 and ensure effective policy enforcement and maintenance.
Kolkata, December 30, 2019: Tobacco Free West Bengal Campaign requests the Government of West Bengal to declare all healthcare facilities tobacco-free zones. Nobody should be allowed to consume tobacco in any form on the premises of various healthcare facilities in West Bengal. Smoking at any of the healthcare facilities is extremely injurious for patients and may cause multiple health hazards.
Smoke free policies under the COTPA 2003 are not always implemented properly at healthcare facilities which may appear to be the first places for bans on tobacco consumption. Curtailing of smoking at these facilities will not only lead to better health for employees in the healthcare sector, but also provide a better healing environment for patients.
Tobacco is considered as one of the leading causes of premature deaths. Worldwide, tobacco consumption causes nearly 6 million deaths per year, and current trends show it will cause more than 8 million deaths annually by 2030.
Over the years, Kolkata has witnessed a rise in the number of people consuming tobacco. According to the latest statistics of GATS – 2 (Global Adult Tobacco Survey) 2016-17, 5.3% people are exposed to second-hand smoking at healthcare facilities. Hence, enforcement under COTPA 2003 is essential to save patients from the harmful effects of tobacco. Even though the Government of West Bengal has already taken various initiatives for tobacco control in the state, the effective implementation of tobacco control policies sometimes remains a challenge. In many of the healthcare facilities, the administration has failed to meet the basic guidelines “No Smoking” signage displayed at prominent sites. Surprisingly, none of the sites had any mention of the contact details of reporting officers. This highlights the various loopholes in successful implementation. There is a need to sensitize the administration on this, with the development of well-established coordinating systems, wide publicity and the empowerment of reporting officers with regard to offenses and fines.
Dr. Gautam Mukhopadhyay, Secretary, Bengal Oncology Foundation, said “I would like to congratulate first the West Bengal Govt. for imposing a ban on gutkha and pan masala in the year 2019. This is a great initiative towards making our state tobacco-free. However, I would request our State Govt. to make all healthcare facilities tobacco-free across West Bengal. I am hopeful that this will be one of the most progressive steps under the Government’s agenda for tobacco control.”
Tobacco-Free West Bengal is a non-governmental initiative—an effort to deliver high impact, evidence-based tobacco-control interventions. This campaign is focussed on achieving and implementing sustainable development by the Government of West Bengal that will lead to substantial reductions in tobacco use and make the environment ‘smoke-free’.