All Kendriya Vidyalayas (KVs) across India have been directed to ensure they are tobacco-free to prevent young people start smoking, officials declared Tuesday. The Kendriya Vidyalya Sangathan (KVS) has directed all the 1,087 schools across India under it make their campuses and surroundings smoking-free. The order has been issued by U.N Khaware, joint commissioner (academics), KVS, to the deputy commissioners of all regional offices. “The order directs the deputy commissioners to ensure that KVs functioning under their jurisdiction adhere to the rules and also prevent use of cigarettes by the students, teachers and the non-teaching staff in the school premises during and after the school hours,” the official said.
Schools welcomed the move, saying it will protect youths from exposure to tobacco. “We welcome the new directive which requires all KV schools to go tobacco-free. We will take up all measures to ensure effective enforcement of this provision to protect youth from exposure to tobacco and organised smoking cigarettes control campaigns and workshops to ensure the same,” said Samer Singh, principal of the Kendriya Vidyalya in Delhi Cantt.
Estimates from the Global Youth Tobacco Survey (GYTS) India Report 2009, show that nearly 15 percent Indian youths in the age group of 13-15 years currently use tobacco in one form or the other.
“We laud this exemplary move made by KVS towards safeguarding the health and wellbeing of students and youths in India. This has set a landmark example for other educational institution boards to emulate,” said Monika Arora from NGO HRIDAY (Health Related Information Dissemination Amongst Youth).
In order to restrict youth access to tobacco products, the Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products Act, (COTPA) 2003, prohibits sale of smoking products to and by any person below the age of 18 years while Section 6 of the act prohibits sale of tobacco products within the radius of 100 yards of any educational institution.