Setting an example for others to follow, the Varanavasi Village Panchayat near Kanchipuram in Tamil Nadu has imposed a ban on tobacco consumption among villagers.
Aghast over an ever-increasing trend of tobacco consumption, the village panchayat unanimously passed a resolution to ban the entry and consumption of tobacco products.
"Youth and school going children have started consuming tobacco products like cigarette and gutka. Hence, the members of the village panchayat decided to curb this tobacco culture among the younger generation," said V Nagarajan, President of Varanavasi Village Panchayat.
To check their tobacco consuming habits, Nagarajan said that we have adopted a resolution to ban smoking and chewing in our panchayat villages.
Varanavasi Village Panchayat consists of five villages namely Azhalavur, Thalampaptu, Varanvasi, Arambakkam and Ramanujapuram, with a population of over 8,000, in the Kanchipuram District of the State.
Nagarajan and a committee of councillors have been entitled to fix the fine amount for a defaulter who is caught selling or consuming any tobacco product in any of the five villages. The fine for the violation of the 'No Tobacco' is Rupees 200.
There are over 400 small and medium grocery shops under the Varanavasi Village Panchayat. According to a shop owner, none of them is selling any tobacco product, since July 6.
"We welcome this move of the Varanavasi Village Panchayat. Almost all children and youth were buying cigarettes and gutka. These tobacco products are not good for them. Now, we have stopped selling cigarettes and chewing tobacco products," said Muthu, a grocery shop owner.
Nagendran who was addicted to chewing tobacco products has bid adieu to Lady Nicotine, and over the past one week, he is rejoicing over his freedom from this unhealthy habit.
During his leisure time, Nagendran, a farmer, criss-crosses the five villages with a loud speaker to persuade people to avoid tobacco dependency.
"I used to chew pan parag and other tobacco chewing items very frequently. However, since the Village Panchayat has banned the consumption of tobacco in the village in any form, I too had stopped using tobacco items. I advise them to stop consuming tobacco in any form," said Nagendran.
Ladies in these villages have welcomed this initiative. "It is good for our children's future," claimed Rupavathi.
The Government earns around 32,000 crores of rupees as excise revenue from tobacco products. As against this, the amount spent on medical treatment for tobacco related diseases is believed to be nearly 40, 000 crore rupees per annum.
India is the third largest tobacco producer and consumer in the world after China and the US. India exports only one fourth of its total annual tobacco output, which is nearly 545 million kilograms. Tobacco victims in India out-number the AIDS victims, as one million of the 250 million tobacco users in the country die every year.
According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), there will be more than ten million deaths a year due to oral cancer in the next thirty years with 70 percent of those occurring in developing countries like India.