Shimla: Himachal Pradesh was today declared as being the first "smoke-free" state in the country for achieving 85.42 per cent compliance with the relevant parameters.
Health minister Kaul Singh Thakur declared HP a "smoke-free" state at a function here organised jointly by Himachal Pradesh Voluntary Health Association (HPVHA), International Union for Tuberculosis and Lung Diseases (New Delhi) and Department of Health and Family Welfare.
Speaking on the occasion, Thakur said that the focus should now shift to ridding the state of indoor smoking as passive smoking was more injurious than smoking in the open.
He said that HP had been declared a smoke free state in compliance with Section 4 of the Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products Act (COTPA), 2003.
A technical and scientific survey supporting the state`s claim to the status had been conducted by the Department of Community Medicine, IGMC (Shimla) and Population Research Centre of Himachal Pradesh University, the minister added.
Thakur said that more than 2,500 panchayats in HP have passed a resolution for compliance with COTPA provisions.
Fifty-seven development blocks of the state, too, had passed resolutions on achieving smoke-free status.
Thakur said that the state government was committed to eliminating tobacco products and had hiked taxes on bidis and cigarettes from 11 and 18 per cent to 22 and 36 per cent, respectively in the 2013-14 budget.
An additional 4 per cent VAT on the above items, too, had been imposed with a view to discouraging sales, he added.