Delhi to be smoke-free city before CWG: Dikshit

New Delhi, May 31 (IANS) Delhi will be a smoke-free city ahead of the Commonwealth Games to be held in October and a community-based pilot project will make people aware about ill-effects of tobacco usage, Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit said Monday.

At a function held here to mark World No Tobacco Day, she pointed out that the city government has come out with several initiatives to implement the plan.

‘An integrated community-based pilot project will make people aware about ill-effects of tobacco and also make treatment accessible to them through participation of non- government organisations,’ the chief minister said.

The Institute of Human Behaviour and Allied Sciences (IHBAS) has been made the coordinating agency for the pilot project, which will be first implemented in five areas of east and south Delhi — Sunder Nagri, Nand Nagri, Gandhi Nagar, Shastri Park and Hauz Khas.

The organisations will also provide training to community workers and doctors, besides arranging counselling for tobacco users.

A website www.smokefreedelhi.org was also launched by Dikshit for extending help to people who want to quit smoking. She said about 1.5 million people die every year globally because of tobacco use.

India has an estimated 120 million smokers. ‘It is alarming and has become a point of concern for all of us,’ she said.

Delhi Health Minister Kiran Walia said a smoke-free capital will mean that everyone is protected from hazards of tobacco smoke in public places, including auditoriums, hospitals, railway waiting rooms, restaurants, public offices, court buildings, educational institutions, libraries and public conveniences, among other places.

A Delhi government official said 97,153 public places were raided following which 18,957 persons have been fined for smoking in public since October 2008 when smoking was banned in public places.

Also, 1,495 tobacco vendors were fined by the state government and a sum of Rs.1,675,240 was realised from the violators, the official added.

According to the officer, the government has also identified designated officers in several government offices for implementation and compliance of smoke-free rules within their jurisdictions.