The head of a school will now be held accountable for sale and consumption of tobacco and related products inside the school or within 100 metre radius of the school premise.
According to a Government Resolution (GR), school heads will have to sign and fill up an undertaking with their picture and submit it to the district education office, stating that there is no usage of tobacco and tobacco products inside the school premises or within 100 metre radius of it, and that they are following all rules stipulated in the Cigarettes and other Tobacco Products (Prohibition of Advertisement and Regulation of Trade and Commerce Production, Supply and Distributor) Act, 2003.
If it comes to the notice of the school head that tobacco is being sold despite the 100 metre restriction, he or she will need to notify the matter to the concerned authorities.
“If the user is inside the school, teachers will be able to detect that. But if someone is selling or using tobacco outside the school premises, then it is very difficult for the school to monitor such activities. The responsibility should instead be fixed on the civic body and and the police, who should be accountable for such activities outside school premises,” said Arundhati Chavan, President of Parent-Teachers’ Association (PTA) United Forum.
Avnita Bir, principal of R N Podar School, Santacruz, said that there has to be a multi-pronged effort to arrest something like this. “It is not possible for just one individual to ensure that malpractices don’t take place outside the school premises. And even if the principal notices sale of such products within the restricted area, he or she will need additional support of the police. Hence, there has to be a collective effort,” said Bir.
The GR says that measures are to be implemented strictly as according to the Global Adult Tobacco Survey (GATS), around 2.5 crore in Maharashtra use tobacco or tobacco products. The GR adds that it is high time that the death of youngsters should be prevented due to tobacco related diseases, adding that 2,500 across the country die daily of its use.
“In 2011, a state government notification said that there will be no tobacco shops within 100 metre radius of a school. All schools must strictly implement that circular and ensure there is no sale of tobacco and tobacco products within 100 metre radius of an educational institution. Looking at the increase in their usage and their ill-effects, the World Health Organisation (WHO) has termed it as a global problem. Around 50 lakh globally and around 10 lakh in India die every year suffering from diseases due to tobacco and tobacco products. These diseases include mouth and lung cancer and cardiac diseases,” says the GR.
According to GATS, 14 per cent tobacco users are teenagers in the 13-15 years age group, and 42.5 per cent male and 18.9 per cent female use tobacco and tobacco products. “Further, over 5,500 students start using tobacco yearly in India and over five lakh students below 15 years of age get addicted to tobacco and tobacco products. Children of the age of eight get exposed to tobacco in India,” it says.
Accordingly the GR directs schools to display a notice board, stating that the school is tobacco free and detailing the fine and other details regarding ban on sale and consumption of tobacco within 100 metre radius of its premises. It says action will be taken against school for flouting norms. Schools also need to inform on their website the restrictions in place and measures taken.
The state has also said that the teaching and non-teaching staff should be restricted from consuming tobacco in school as students are influenced by teachers.