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Indians Support a Smoke Free Nation

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According to the results of a survey released in January 2009, conducted by the Healis-Sekhsaria Institute for Public Health
through Synovate’s Global Omnibus
on attitudes and behaviour among consumers in four major Indian cities, a near-unanimous majority of Indians strongly believe that the government should implement all new regulations that prohibit smoking inside all public places and workplaces in India.

An overwhelming 99% of the respondents of the survey have voiced their opinions strongly in favour of enforcement of rules prohibiting smoking in all public places and workplaces. 98% of the respondents have come out in favour of regulations prohibiting smoking in workplaces.

Speaking on the results of the survey, Dr. P.C. Gupta,
Director, Healis – Sekhsaria Institute for Public Health, said,
“The results of this survey have now shown that Indians clearly support the implementation of the law to ensure a right of citizens to breathe clean. Every aspect of controlling the brazen incursion of tobacco in public life must be exercised fully. By next year smoking will cause about 930,000 adult deaths each year in India, up from about 700,000 deaths per year in 2004. It is therefore vitally essential for the government and public bodies to take substantial steps to make sure that the compliance and implementation of the law on tobacco control is in fact realized, so that every common man can be protected from the dangers posed by tobacco.”

“India has always been faced with the rampant use of tobacco across all sections of society. However, the results of this survey show that most Indians are still resistant to tobacco usage, and the general consensus achieved by the survey is a very positive indicator of the sentiments of the public. It is very heartening to know that Indians recognize the fact that secondhand smoke is a major health hazard, and feel that the ban on smoking in public places should be more strictly enforced”, said Dr. S.S. Shastri, Professor and Head, Department of Preventive Oncology, Tata Memorial Hospital, Mumbai.

The respondents have also shown a high regard for the adverse effects of secondhand smoke, with 92% clearly stating that exposure to secondhand smoke constitutes a serious health hazard for non-smokers. With regard to office environment, 94% percent of Indians surveyed strongly agreed that all workers in India should be protected from exposure to secondhand smoke in the workplace. These concerns translate to the very strong belief among Indians that the right of customers and employees to breathe smoke-free air in workplaces and public places (including restaurants and bars) is more important than the right of smokers to smoke inside these places.

The majority of respondents from all locations have said that restaurants and bars are healthier and more enjoyable now that they are smoke-free. 85% of the respondents have agreed to this fact, out of whom 72% have agreed very strongly that these places are healthier. 88% of the respondents have strongly agreed that it is nice to go out and enjoy local restaurants and bars without smelling like smoke when they get home.

The results of the survey have highlighted the fact that Indians have decisively spoken out against smoking in public, and the recognition of the fact that secondhand smoke is a health hazard. This clearly shows that there is ample scope for the ban on smoking in public places has ample scope to succeed in the country, and it is the responsibility of civic bodies to ensure that the rules necessary for the campaign to succeed are uniformly enforced.

For more details, visit http://www.healis.org


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