Need for a smoke-free environment
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165,000 children die in India every year not due to lack of nutrition or accidents but because of someone else’s bad habit: smoking. To put the number in perspective, 1.5 times the population of a city like Berkeley die every year!
We are used to several anti-smoking campaigns and images on cigarette packets to discourage people from smoking. While smoking is injurious to the individual, passive smoking affects an entire community. Hence, it is critical we shift our focus from anti-smoking campaigns targeted towards individuals and move the cause towards ensuring we live in smoke-free environments.
A smoke-free environment is a major step towards protecting our vital organs. Passive smoking affects the normal functioning of our lungs and can trigger bronchitis and asthma. Smoke causes the blockage of arteries and leads to coronary heart diseases. Studies have shown the risk of experiencing a heart attack almost doubles due to regular exposure to second-hand smoke.
Passive smoking is one of the causes for lower birth weight of babies and is a major cause of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). Female fertility can suffer because of passive smoking.
However, the most serious damage inflicted by passive smoking is on children. They are more likely to suffer from ear infections, tonsillitis, asthma, bronchitis and other related lung diseases.
The Global Burden of Disease (GBD) report found that while air pollution is the most important single risk factor for premature disability and death in India, tobacco smoke exposure accounted for about half this risk.
Tobacco consumption violates various rights of non-smokers, which includes the most important right to clean air. Right to life is also violated as maintenance of health and the environment falls within the purview of Article 21, and their degradation adversely affects the life of citizens.
We, the undersigned, would like to see smoke-free cafes and restaurants, common living spaces in apartments, footpaths, bus stops, office building premises, public-parking areas, both enclosed and open public places.
Let’s save 600,000 people every year from this menace of passive smoking!
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