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Tobacco-Free India is possible by multi-sectoral convergence", says Dr Rajiv Saizal, Health Minister of Himachal Pradesh

Chandigarh, September 28, 2021: “It is the need of the hour to make our nation free from use of any type of tobacco products,” said Dr Rajiv Saizal, Health Minister of Himachal Pradesh at the inaugural ceremony of the 5th National Conference on Tobacco or Health (NCTOH-virtual).
Dr Rajiv Saizal was the chief guest at the 3-day virtual conference, which was hosted by the Department of Community Medicine & School of Public Health at Post Graduate Institute of Medical Education and Research (PGIMER), Chandigarh. The 3 days virtual conference has concluded successfully. 

Delivering a keynote address, Dr Rajiv Saizal said that the institutes of national excellence like PGIMER can lead by example for other medical colleges to join this “Tobacco-Free” India movement.

He further reiterated the importance of convergence of all sectors be it health or other sectors for this campaign towards achievement of Sustainable Development Goals. He added that, “Himachal Pradesh has always been a frontrunner in tobacco control and has shown way to many states in leading tobacco control initiatives.”

Dr. Sonu Goel, the Organizing Secretary and Professor at PGIMER shared, “The three day scientific program of NCTOH-2021, conducted 9 workshops on diverse themes and had over 100 technical sessions which were graced by more than 150 technical experts from India and other countries.”

He also highlighted the role of academic and research institutions to build the capacity of health systems for steering tobacco control in the country.

The three days 5th National Conference on Tobacco or Health (NCTOH-virtual) was conducted in collaboration with International Union against TB and Lung Diseases, South East Asia with support of many organisations and individuals working in tobacco control and under overall guidance of Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Government of India.

The conference aims at ensuring multi-stakeholder engagement, state participation and provides overall direction to achieve the conference theme ‘Multi-Sectoral Convergence for Tobacco-Free India by 2030: Leading the way towards SDGs’.

Governor of Punjab and Chandigarh (UT) Administrator, Banwari Lal Purohit complimented efforts of PGIMER in maintaining the momentum of tobacco control in the country in these challenging times of COVID19 pandemic. He further assured support from the administration towards galvanizing tobacco control efforts in Chandigarh.

Director PGIMER, Prof. Jagat Ram also mentioned the initiatives of PGIMER in spearheading tobacco control and undertaking policy focused research.

Chandigarh Deceleration was announced during valedictory ceremony by Padam Bhushan Prof. K. Srinath Reddy, President Public Health Foundation of India along with Dr. P.C Gupta, Director, Healis-Sekhsaria Institute of Public Health. This discussion was the outcome of 3 day deliberations where experts vouched for an expedited amendment of India’s current tobacco control Act 2003, increasing taxes and standardized packaging on tobacco products. They also demanded for strict implementation and monitoring of electronic cigarettes, herbal smoking, e-hookah selling on online marketing websites.

The experts further stressed to ban on smokeless tobacco products in view of COVID 19, strengthening tobacco testing laboratories, expanding tobacco cessation services to Health and wellness centres, introducing tobacco vendor licensing, stopping tobacco industry interference on health and related policies  along-with framing an evidence based national tobacco control policy with special focus on gender and vulnerable groups.

Dr L Swasticharan, Additional Deputy Director General, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Government of India called out for multi-sectoral convergence across ministries and departments for advancing ‘Tobacco End-Game’ in India’.

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