'Chennai will become 'smoke-free' by 2010'

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Chennai, Nov 26: This burgeoning metropolis will become a smoke-free city by 2010 and Tamil Nadu a smoke-free State two years later, according to Union Health Minister Anbumani Ramadoss. Taking the first step in the direction, he launched the Tamil Nadu Tobacco Control Coalition (TTCC) and an audio CD on ''Smoke-Free World'' at a function here yesterday.

In his address, the Minister said he would urge Chief Minister M Karunanidhi to make Tamil Nadu the first smoke-free State in the country by 2012.

He had been urging the Chief Ministers of Delhi and Maharashtra to make Delhi and Mumbai 'smoke-free' cities.

Announcing the Centre's decision to unveil a national programme to bring down the use of tobacco products in public places, Dr Anbumani said the programme would empower police, headmasters, bus drivers and conductors and law enforcers to penalise offenders.

''The fine is Rs 200 per offence, whereas we want it to be raised to Rs 2,000,,'' he said and urged people to oppose use of tobacco products in public places.

''When tobacco consumption is coming down in developed countries, why should it go up in developing countries? If Bangladesh can bring down tobacco consumption, why can't we? If Chandigarh can become a smoke-free city, why can't Chennai,'' he asked.


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