No Tobacco in JK
May 31 was observed as World No Tobacco Day, with popular campaigns and events organized on the day and beforehand to divert the attention of the masses on the effects and health hazards caused by the use of tobacco. In J&K to a number of workshops, seminars, anti-tobacco campaigns and awareness programs were conducted and organized for the same purpose. With more than 10,000 offenders arrested by police in three months prior to that day, the Governor JK directed Deputy Commissioner Srinagar and police to conduct a month long anti-tobacco campaign in the city. Besides that various civil action groups and human welfare societies put into execution their own plans and exercises. Nonetheless, the essential data about tobacco use and its impact on health is missing in the state. It is believed that tobacco use in JK is quite high. References are often made to the Global Adult Tobacco Survey (GATS), an exercise that was conducted some four years ago by Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (Union) when Ghulam Nabi Azad was the minister. While the highlights of GATS provided useful information on tobacco users in general and smokers in particular throughout India, there was one important observation/deliberation that revealed yet another intricacy in controlling tobacco use. It was noted that tobacco farmers need not be put in jeopardy with stern measures to control tobacco right from the production phase. In J&K tobacco farming is nonexistent and therefore the question of putting farmers in jeopardy does not arise here. So that leaves the people of the state as consumers, not just average consumers but heavy consumers. While the state can go ahead with an indigenous exercise to control tobacco and its use, such a bell is yet to ring in the ears of those who govern. The whole responsibility is shifted to the shoulders of civil society, social welfare groups and young academicians who debate and lecture well. Anti-tobacco and anti-smoking drives that have become innate reflexes occurring around May 31 are yet to deliver results. Most extensive campaigns undertaken to control tobacco use in the world is by World Health Organization (WHO), which recently has been imploring states to increase taxes on tobacco. It has been proved to be one affective strategy to control tobacco use. So, the question is can J&K state take up an exercise or call for an arrangement wherein heavy tax is imposed on tobacco and tobacco products? It is believed that such an endeavor would be more effective than the results of all other exercises put together. It is a policy question, about the health of the state subjects and if government wills a lot can be changed.