Key Assam parties hailed for making tobacco control an issue

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Guwahati, March 30: The Voluntary Health Association of Assam (VHAA) has welcomed the initiative of the major political parties in the state to include issues pertaining to tobacco control in their respective election manifestos following its advocacy efforts.

"We are grateful to all the political parties - Congress, BJP and AGP - for coming out to safeguard the people from the menace of tobacco by including issues related to tobacco control in their manifestos", said VHAA Executive Secretary Ruchira Neog. "In the past it was rarely seen political parties making commitment to work towards achieving a tobacco-free society in Assam.

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We believe they will keep their promises made towards tobacco control in Assam in the coming times," said Neog. "This proactive step was taken by Congress, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Asom Gana Parishad (AGP) following advocacy effort undertaken by the VHAA at the highest level of the parties concerned for including issues pertaining to tobacco control in their respective election manifestos", she added.

The Congress, BJP and AGP, irrespective of their political ideologies, made a commitment to the public, ahead of the Assembly polls, through their election manifesto to address issues related to tobacco control, if, given a chance to form the new government in Assam, the VHAA official said.

A VHAA delegation earlier this month met and handed over representations to the parties in this regard, she added.

The Congress party manifesto was quoted as stating that they will amend the existing laws for more effective control of sale and use of cigarette, bidis, smokeless tobacco products and other intoxicating substances.

The BJP, in its manifesto, too has promised to ban use of cigarette and tobacco products in public places of Assam, while its poll ally AGP said it will enforce the existing laws stringently to control the use of tobacco and drugs amongst the students community and request all concerned to voluntarily close sale of all intoxicating substances for a day every month.

PTI

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