Children stage play to fight against tobacco consumption

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Mumbai, May 30 (UNI) To initiate a freedom movement against tobacco on the eve of the 'World No Tobacco Day", over 500 children from Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation-run schools converged at the amphitheatre of Malabar Hill in South Mumbai today and staged a play.

The initiative, 'Quit Tobacco Movement', has been modelled on the lines of the historic 'Quit India Movement'.

In the true likeness to its predecessors, the Quit Tobacco Movement had school children dressed up as freedom fighters of the likes of Mahatma Gandhi, Subhash Chandra Bose, Rani Laxmibai, Maulana Azad and Lokmanya Tilak among others.

The children staged the play, 'Bharat Jodo, Tambaku Chhodo', which had the freedom fighters demanding the rights of children to live in a tobacco-free environment.

Present on the occasion were Mayor Shubha Raul, Joint Commissioner of Police (Administration) Hemant Karkare, former hockey player and coach Mir Ranjan Negi and other well known personalities from the world of theatre and sports.

Following the play, the children climbed up onto a convoy of vehicles and conducted a 'March for freedom', which was flagged off by the Mayor and the Jt Commissioner of Police.

Addressing the gathering, Salaam Bombay Foundation Director Padmini Somani said ''It is like the coming of age, where the children themselves are now demanding their rights for a tobaccofree world for them. We have created an army of school kids called the Super Army, who uses unique weapons like art, theatre and music to educate people in the fight against tobacco. Our children want a healthy happy world for their generation and understand that abstinence is better than cure.'' Mr Karkare said ''We need to change the way people think about tobacco. The children have made it clear that they don't want tobacco around them and it is no longer cool or acceptable to consume tobacco.'' The march continued across Mumbai, stopping at various locations in the city, to educate people about the need to create a tobacco- free world for children. The convoy had patriotic songs being played out with the children shouting anti-tobacco slogans. There were street plays held at various points like malls and railway stations, where the audience were given hand-outs encouraging them to join the movement and quit tobacco for the sake of their child's future.

The 'Quit Tobacco Movement' also included two suburban local trains provided by the Western Railway and also buses provided by Brihanmumbai Electric Supply and Transort (BEST) undertaking for carrying anti-tobacco messages. Many corporates had also shown a lot of solidarity for this initiative, and had begun to spread the 'Quit tobacco message' across five cities.

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