World No Tobacco Day (WNTD) observed on 31st May every year globally is a powerful reminder that we all need to fight against tobacco and protect our citizens, especially children. NTCP Meghalaya and the Education Department in collaboration with Sambandh Health Foundation ran a successful WNTD campaign this year which required every school to do two activities including rally against tobacco and signature campaign. In the State, more than 4.9 lakh students from more than 8,000 schools participated.
Research studies indicate that when children participate in anti-tobacco activities, they are more likely to avoid tobacco use.
With last year’s WNTD’22 campaign reaching every nook and corner of Meghalaya, this year too the State decided to do interventions which ensure children’s participation. This year’s theme was ‘My Meghalaya, Tobacco-free Meghalaya’. Videos were made highlighting how the rivers, villages, forests, and the beauty of Meghalaya was being messed-up by tobacco.
Awards are given to the best schools in a Block, doing both activities, in four categories: primary, upper primary, secondary and higher secondary. Block Award committees were made which included officials from the Education Department, Parents, Village Headmen etc. Block level winners were considered for district level awards by a District Award Committee and district winners competed for State level awards.
Congratulating the DSEO, DMC, SDSEO, the Deputy Commissioner, East Jaintia Hills, Abhilash Baranwal, IAS said “The WNTD’23 campaign is a great initiative to build a healthy generation. I am really happy that the Nodal Officer, BMCs, BRPs, CRCs, Principals and Teachers participated with full enthusiasm.
From the Department of Education, Government of Meghalaya, Jennyfer J. Synrem shared that the Departments of Health & Education, Government of Meghalaya has been implementing the Tobacco Free Educational Institutions (ToFEI) program since 2021 in collaboration with Sambandh Health Foundation (a Gurugram-based NGO). Our state has won the prestigious World Health Organization Award 2023 in the Southeast Asian region for WNTD activities.
The DSEO, EJH informed that 393 schools conducted rallies in the district and 18,726 students collected 237,609 signatures.
Dr Lana. L Nongbri, State Nodal Officer, NHM, said, “Tobacco not only kills its best customers but also destroys our environment. This is a product that is consumed by 47% adults (aged 15+) in our State. It kills 8,000 people in Meghalaya every year. We are ensuring that we implement one of the most effective strategies, i.e., ToFEI to reduce the prevalence in the State.”
In East Jaintia Hills, the district winners were Narwan Lumlama LPS in Primary category, Topcem Public School in Upper Primary, Sohkymphor Secondary School in Secondary category and Khliehriat Higher Secondary School in Higher Secondary category.