North 24 Parganas (West Bengal) :
A workshop for teachers was organised jointly by District Inspector of Schools North 24 Parganas, Narayana Superspeciality Hospital and Sambandh Health Foundation on Thursday (October 11) for making tobacco free schools at Prafullanagar Vidya Mandir in Habra, North 24 Parganas (West Bengal).
The major objective of this workshop was to create champions among school teachers by sensitizing them on the Cigarette and Other Tobacco Products Act (COTPA)-2003 and its implementation at the school level by empowering them to promote tobacco free educational institutes for preventing initiation of tobacco consumption among students and also to motivate the school staff /parents/friends to Say No to Tobacco.
It is to be mentioned that in West Bengal, 2.3 crore of all adults either smoke or use smokeless tobacco; 1.5 lakh people die every year due to tobacco related diseases in West Bengal and 438 children start consuming tobacco daily in the State, which is an alarming fact.
There were more than 200 participants including headmasters/headmistresses and teachers from all secondary schools across two blocks namely Habra-I and Habra-II and two municipalities including Habra and Ashok Nagar-Kalyangarh of North 24 Parganas district.
The participants were told about the Cigarette and Other Tobacco Products Act (COTPA). This Act prohibits smoking in public places, direct/indirect advertising and promotion, sale to/by minors, sale within 100 yards of schools and sale of tobacco-products without statutory warnings.
All participants took part in group exercises to generate ideas and strategies for promoting Tobacco Free Schools. The feedback of the participating teachers was overwhelmingly positive and they said it was a unique and insightful session for understanding the tobacco menace and have motivated them to play an important role in this campaign. All participants took an anti-tobacco pledge on this occasion.
This workshop will also help in gaining attention of the school education department for taking action towards making tobacco free schools across the state of West Bengal.
The workshop was held with active participation, support and coordination from Shri Suvajit Chattopadhay, District Inspector of Schools North 24 Parganas; Shri Satyajit Biswas, President award winner teacher and Shri Sujoy Ghosh, Sub Inspector of Schools and Nodal officer for this event.
Shri Dhiman Roy, Hon’ble MLA from Ashoknagar said, “I express my heartfelt gratitude to Sambandh Health Foundation for taking up this excellent initiative for creating tobacco free schools, I also appeal to all teachers to come forward and take pledge for educating the students to stay away from tobacco and themselves become role models for this cause”.
Dr. Apurva Garg, Oncologist of Narayana Superspeciality Hospital explained the sufferings of tobacco victims and their families. He also focused on warning signals of cancer & tobacco use. He said, “My patients, who undergo major oral cancer surgeries, undergo huge trauma, financial ruin & loss for the family and almost 50% do not survive more than a year. They all repent why they consumed tobacco.”
Eminent filmmaker Shri Shiboprosad Mukherjee said, “We, me and Nandita Roy, as responsible human beings have always felt that our work should always have a message that actually affects human lives for the better. As films touch a lot of people we have also tried to use the medium to spread the awareness against tobacco use in our forthcoming film, Kantho. We also urge and request the School Education Department of West Bengal for taking necessary actions for creating tobacco free schools and introducing anti-tobacco activities in schools to motivate and sensitize students, teachers, staff and also parents against tobacco consumption.”