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Ramadoss to seek hike in budget of anti-tobacco campaign

Ramadoss to seek hike in budget of anti-tobacco campaign

Bangalore: Union Health Minster Anbumani Ramadoss on Monday said his ministry will seek a hike in budgetary allocation for the anti-tobacco campaign and plans to use part of cess collected from tobacco sales for the purpose.

Instead of focusing purely on carrot-and-stick policy to implement the no-smoking rule, the Government would seek to intensify its public awareness programme to ensure the enforcement of no-smoking rule in the country, he said.

The campaign would involve a lot more enforcers in the form of members of parliament, MLAs, panchayats, teachers, among others to drive the no-smoking rule apart from punitive measures, the minister said while unveiling an anti-tobacco rally at Bangalore Medical College.

“There is going to be a lot more noise made about it," he said through school forums, NGOs and other similar forms.

Currently, the budgetary allocation for anti-tobacco campaign was Rs450 crore and he would seek to increase it by another Rs100-125 crore annually to push it forward. The ministry was also planning to use part of the 5% cess collected from tobacco sale for the campaign, he said.

Citing the success of the anti-smoking rule abroad, he said, “90% was achieved by public awareness and voluntary compliance and 10% by the authorities."

He hoped that the no-smoking rule in India would achieve a similar success through intensified public awareness programme, forcing smokers to give up smoking in public places rather than face the wrath of the public.

He was optimistic that the campaign if sustained for another six months would yield the desired results. “It will trigger a chain reaction," he said.

The minister said tobacco killed five million world wide of which one million were Indians. A WHO survey revealed that 14.1% of 13 to 15-year-olds take to tobacco.

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