Tobacco-free Village in North East

Sahpuriya, a village at the outskirts of Jorhat in upper Assam is working to become the first tobacco-free village in India. Considering in Assam chewing tobacco with tamul (pan) is part of local culture, this is really heartening and courageous of the villagers.

A village of around 360 households. Initial initiative was taken by a resident of village who read about the ill-effects of tobacco. He got in touch with Tobacco Control Cell in Jorhat district. He teamed up with the District Nodal officer of the cell and started an awareness campaign on causes of tobacco on oral cancer. Many youngsters initially resisted their efforts as they felt the campaign was against the Assamese culture. But involvement of children in the campaign helped. As many children influenced their parents to stop consuming tobacco, after learning about the effects of oral cancer. Soon women joined the campaign. Considering many of the women in Assam also chew tobacco, this was a significant achievement, which resulted in a pledge by all 360 households on Women’s Day not to use tobacco in their daily lives.

The Global Adult Tobacco India (GATS India) Survey, conducted in 2009-10, reveals that out of the 274.9 million estimated number of tobacco users in India, 163.7 million Indians chew tobacco. The report also reveals almost 90 per cent cases in India are linked to tobacco. India has the highest prevalence of oral cancer in the world, with 75,000 to 80,000 new cases of oral cancers being reported every year and Northeast India accounts for more than 40 per cent of these cases.

In this scenario, Sahpuriya’s crusade leads by example. “It is great to see the zeal of the villagers given the fact that tobacco is a part and parcel of their daily routine. Thus we are trying to inspire them to take it further. If Sahpuriya succeeds in its mission, I am sure the rest of Assam will follow,” said a hopeful District Collector of Jorhat.
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2 Responses to Tobacco-free Village in North East

  1. Bhaktimay Bhattacharyya says:

    I read your article about sahpuria village.
    I want to make a correction that it was an effort of DTCC JORHAT with the help of villager s with jorhat college in between with help of Mr.romen saikia.
    With regards.
    Dr.bhaktimay bhattacharyya.

  2. Purushottam Panchal says:

    Socio Research & Reform Foundation
    512 A, Deepshikha, 8 Rajendra Place, New Delhi-110008

    CC to:-
    Dear Madam Geetaben/ Jasubhai Patel
    President / Secretary
    GVHA, Ahmedabad
    Email:- ,

    Sub:- First tobacco free village of Assam state in India.

    Ref:- Your email messge dtd. 19th Dec.2011 at 3:32 pm.

    Dear Sirs,

    Namaskar and Greetings from Sevatirth an Organization working in the field of leprosy and disability for their Health care, education , trainings to empower them to live with Dignity in society in main strem.

    It is heartily congratulations to Sahpuriya villagers and District collector of Jorhat District of Assam State.

    Very good initiatives taken by villagers and supported by the collector and they deserve congratulations from whole India and the concerns as Govt’s health Departments and all citizens. They are the real leaders and finger pointer for healthy life and every one has to follow to make gradually all villages tobacco free .

    Please convey my regards to all as well actions steps to take for all villagers tobacco free with guidance to all.

    Thanking You,

    Yours Faithfully,

    Purushottam Panchal

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