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Thursday, March 12, 2009

Corporates pledge to kick the butt

Mumbai: Corporate India came out in strong support of the ban on smoking in public places on Monday, with 60 corporates pledging to stub out cigarettes on their office premises. The movement, which was flagged off as part of the 14th World Conference on Tobacco or Health, got a boost when Union health minister A Ramadoss announced that he would soon make organisations that weren't smokefree ineligible to bid for government tenders.
    "We will soon bring in a rule that those corporates which aren't smoke-free can't bid for government tenders. This will strengthen the health ministry's notification,'' Ramadoss said.
    While the hospitality industry has effectively enforced the ban on smoking in public places, that came into effect on October 2, 2008, many offices lag behind in compliance. Nearly 81% employees who smoke admitted to finding an alternative place to light up at their workplace, found a survey.

    On Monday, corporates, including Barclays Capital, JP Morgan, Elder pharmaceuticals, Mariott Hotels, Reliance Industries Limited, besides associations such as the Confederation of Indian Industries and the Indian Association of Occupational Health (IAOH) signed the Mumbai declaration to promote no-smoking as a workplace initiative. "Our aim is to get as many industries as possible to acknowledge the ban on smoking on their premises as part of their corporate governance before October 2009, one year since the ban,'' said Dr Srinath Reddy of the Public Health Foundation of India which is spearheading the initiative to turn offices smoke-free by providing sensitisation programmes for HR professionals as well as support to help employees quit.
    Dr Shyam Pingle of the IAOH said his or
ganisation had found that smokers wasted nearly 5 to 20 minutes of work hours on each smoking break. "They take more sick leave too,'' he said. "The corporate sector needs not just a ban, but an entire eco-system that enables employees to kick the habit,'' said Ranjit Shahani of Novartis.
    Ramadoss promised to help offices, even financially, to set up cessation clinics, even if it was a cluster of offices having one.

Smoking comment leads to man's death
Mumbai: The Powai police on Sunday arrested a 32-year-old man after he allegedly beat a man to death. The two had a scuffle after the deceased, Arjun Mali allegedly commented on the accused, Nandkumar Khaire's, smoking habits. Khaire punched Mali on the chest and abdomen that killed him. Cops arrested Khaire, a hotel employee, on charges of murder. TNN
TIMES IMPACT: Taking cognizance of a TOI report which recently stated that pollution levels in Mumbai's hookah bars had gone up after the ban on smoking in public places, health minister A Ramadoss pointed out that hookah bars, too, were prohibited from allowing smoking on their premises. "I will strongly advise the Maharashtra government to close down the bars,'' he said. Anti-tobacco activists echoed Ramadoss' concerns and said the civic body should act on his advice. "The BMC has turned a blind eye to hookah parlours and should act on Ramadoss' diktat,'' said Vincent Nazareth of the NGO Crusade Against Tobacco. TNN


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