Mumbai: The Brihanmumbai Sarvajanik Ganeshostsav Samanvay Samiti (BSGSS), an umbrella organisation of Ganesh Mandals, has issued a letter to as many as 14,000 mandals, urging them to celebrate a tobacco-free festival.
The Mumbai-based NGO, Salaam Bombay Foundation, is working closely with the BSGSS to ensure the city’s Ganesh mandals remain tobacco-free during the entire period of the fest. The campaign against tobacco will be started by the mandals.
In 2010, the mandals were asked to refrain from advertising tobacco products during the festival, and most of them had agreed to shun a big money by banning tobacco ads.
In 2011, the BMC went a step further and enforced the rules of the Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products Act (COTPA), while granting licences to around 12,000 Ganesh mandals around the city.
“Each mandal is expected to prominently display ‘No Smoking’ and ‘No Tobacco Use’ signages and boards in its vicinity. Posters and slogans must be put up informing harmful effects of tobacco.
In addition, mandals have been asked to conduct at least one activity during the 10-day festival that will propagate a strong message about the health hazards of tobacco consumption,” said Naresh Dahibavkar, the BSGSS president.
Every year, the Salaam Bombay Foundation volunteers visit mandals to monitor the situation and counsel them to disassociate from tobacco. This year too, a team will continue its efforts and ensure that mandals do their bit to make the city tobacco-free.
Tshering D Bhutia, the Salaam Bombay vice-president, said the BSGSS letter is a welcome move, as it comes at a time when over a quarter of Maharashtra’s population either smokes or chews tobacco, as per the second round of the Global Adult Tobacco Survey (GATS-2) 2016-17.
The national picture is even more worrisome with the report showing that India remains the second-largest consumer of tobacco products with about 81 lakh consumers.
“Mandals have been made to understand that the area of prayer is sacrosanct and there should be no consumption of addictive substances in its vicinity. The BSGSS letter will surely bring more positive changes in the campaign against tobacco this year,” he said.