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Healis Sekhsaria Institute for Public Health organises workshop for FDA

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In an effort to boost the efficacy of civic authorities in the campaign against tobacco, the Healis Sekhsaria Institute for Public Health has conducted an advocacy workshop for Food Inspectors from the FDA, aimed at sensitising these officials with regard to their role in the implementation of the tobacco control laws, and how they can act as conduits for channelising and implementing the law in their jurisdiction. The workshop also served as a platform for brainstorming on and identifying present and potential obstacles in the implementation of the law, and possible solutions designed to circumvent them.

Speaking on the development, Dr. P.C. Gupta, Director, Healis Sekhsaria Institute for Public Health said, ‘It has been a year since the law against smoking in public has been passed. Over the past year, this has resulted in substantial progress towards curbing smoking in public places, however, we still have a long way to go. The FDA has played a major role in the implementation of the law, with regard to enforcing the law and penalising offenders. Through such workshops, we aim to build further capacities for the FDA in this regard, and through sharing of relevant information on the process, we believe that the FDA will be able to enhance its outreach in controlling smoking in public, and play a greater role in the efforts against tobacco in the country.’

 Adding onto this, Mr. Pawar, the Joint Commissioner (Food) and the State Nodal Officer for Tobacco Control Cell, said ‘The experience with this first State level Advocacy workshop was a brilliant learning experience for the FDA of Maharashtra. It is my belief that such workshops should be conducted at the divisional level as well, as this would definitely help in sharing the experience with Food Inspectors of the FDA across Maharashtra. The workshop helped us in understanding the COTPA laws, as well as recent developments in the law, and the implications thereof. This workshop has given us the opportunity to come together and share our difficulties, experiences and to find suitable practical solutions in the implementation of the law.’

 The workshop was attended by a host of speakers and resource people from across the board, including Mr.R.K.Sahay, Joint Commissioner (Vigilance), Dr. Surendra Shastri, Head of Department, Preventive Oncology, Tata Memorial Hospital, Devika Chadha, Project Director, Salaam Bombay Foundation and Dr. Pranita Tipre, Head, Smokefree Mumbai Cell, BMC.

In the discussions held during the workshop, several issues were brought to light. Details such as the adverse impact of smoking in public, difficulties faced by the FDA authorities in implementing the law, and the need for public support on the issue were discussed, among others. Dr. Tipre shared her experience in heading the Smoke-free Mumbai cell of the BMC, and urged the food inspectors to consider tobacco control efforts as a part of their job, rather than an additional responsibility.

During the course of the open discussion, the food inspectors expressed the need for public support for the movement, and said that inter-agency cooperation across issues would be a strong force multiplier in the efforts undertaken.

 In addition to the discussions on implementation of the law, the inspectors also identified the role of the media in garnering public support through the portrayal of the difficulties faced by the FDA in implanting the law due to the pressure from the tobacco lobby. The workshop highlighted that the Food Inspectors had knowledge about the harmful effects of smoking, smokeless tobacco, second hand smoke and sale of tobacco to minors as an indictable offence. In conclusion to the workshop, the Joint Commissioner (Food) has committed to working toward organising the state level meeting for FDA officials across the state at the grassroot level for each division.  

 

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