Two villages in Mizoram have been declared ‘smoke-free’ in Mizoram, according to the Mizoram branch of Indian Society on Tobacco and Health (ISTH).
Speaking at the observation day of the 5th Mizoram State Anti-Tobacco Day here on Tuesday, Lal Riliani, president of the Mizoram branch of ISTH said that two villages – Thingsul Tlangnuam in Aizawl district and Ruantlang in Champhai district – have already been declared ‘smoke-free’.
Use of tobacco especially cigarette smoking is rampant in Mizoram and tobacco related diseases have been registered as the number one killer disease in Mizoram. Since 2005, maximum deaths registered annually in Mizoram were tobacco related, cancer rated the highest followed by other tobacco related diseases like heart problems, stroke, etc.
“Despite our efforts, use of tobacco in Mizoram is still rampant, but statistics said that we are moving in a positive direction, thanks to the efforts of the Mizoram branch of ISTH and the State Health Department,” Lal Riliani, president of Mizoram branch of ISTH said.
Riliani, who is the wife of Mizoram Chief Minister Lal Thanhawla, has been working tirelessly since 1989 to convince and educate the people of Mizoram about the malevolence of tobacco.
State nodal officer for tobacco cessation, Dr Jane Ralte said that they have been facing many challenges in their fight against tobacco. “Geographical location of Mizoram, which shares international boundary with Myanmar and Bangladesh, has become a hot spot for contraband cigarettes as they are cheap and easily available. Those come in packets without proper statutory warnings,” Dr. Ralte said.
According to Dr. Ralte, the Mizoram branch of ISTH has been working with the State Government in their fight against tobacco use in Mizoram.
“The primary objective of the ISTH in Mizoram now is to create awareness and achieve smoke-free homes and smoke-free vehicles. We request the State Government to enforce more stringent laws to make public transportation smoke free,” Dr. Jane Ralte said.
Mizoram is the only State in India to authorise all ranks of police personnel to enforce Section 4, 6(a) & (b) and it is also the first State to adopt anti-tobacco squad.