Himachal has more smokers than national average

Shimla: A vigorous campaign for a smoking free state notwithstanding, health administrators here disclosed that surveys showed that Himachal had a higher number of tobacco smokers than the national average.

Whereas a 2003 national survey sample (NSS) showed that against a national average of 32.7 percent male smokers nationally there were 33.6 percent male smokers in Himachal. On the other hand a 2009-10 GATS survey put the number higher at 38.5 percent male smokers for the state.

Against an national average of 1.4 percent of female smokers, the NSS survey had 1.1 percent women smokers in the state but the latest GATS survey put the number at 3.7 percent.

Speaking on the occasion to mark World Tobacco Day, health minister Rajiv Bindal said that the state anti tobacco campaign had been appreciated by World Health Organisation.

He said that tobacco related cancers constituted a large percentage of cancer patients in the state. The state had no license system for allowing sale of tobacco products but effectively smoking in public places had been implemented.

Taxation on tobacco products had been increased from 13.75% on cigarettes to 16 % and on Beedi’s from 5 to 9.75 percent.

In 2009-10, a total of 7423 people were fined for smoking in public places and a fine amount of Rs 13.41 lakhs was collected. In 2010-11, 7725 persons were fined and an amount of Rs 11.82 lakhs was collected said Bindal.

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