A survey of 230 government schools in Mumbai has revealed that the recommendations made in the WHO-Framework Convention for Tobacco Control (WHO-FCTC) for schools are not being implemented properly. The survey has revealed that most schools are still falling short when it came to putting guidelines into effect as recommended by WHO, to ensure they were tobacco-free. The survey was carried out by the NGO Salaam Bombay Foundation (SBF), a non-profit organisation, established in 2002 to empower children to say no to tobacco.

School children campaigning for a tobacco-free environment

“Children need to be safe in their environment and according to the policies made by the education ministry, every school has to be tobacco-free. Hence, to check the effects of tobacco-free campaigns and to see whether schools are following the guidelines or not, we decided to carry out this survey,” says Devika Chaddha, Programme Director, Salaam Bombay Foundation.
The survey took almost a month and a half to complete, and Chaddha says that while some areas need more awareness, a few have been showing some improvement.

While among the schools surveyed, only 8% (18 schools) strictly follow no smoking or chewing of tobacco within the premises of the institution, by teachers/ students/ any staff members, 71% (164 schools) have posters depicting harmful effects of tobacco within the premises of the school. “So, there is hope,” adds Chaddha.

The findings that were collected were shared at the Bal Parishad, a children’s advocacy workshop organised by SBF school children on January 28. The workshop was attended by Prakash Charte, Deputy Educational Officer (BMC), Sharad Bande, Superintendent License Department, BMC, Pranita Tipure- Assistant Executive, Health office (BMC), Mahesh Zagade, Food and Drug Commissioner, Maharashtra and Pravin. Salunke, Additional Police Commissioner, (Central Region, Mumbai).

The way forward
To create greater awareness about no-tobacco environments in and around school premises, SBS has started a year-long drive that includes several campaigns which they plan to undertake.

“We also have a three-year training session where we train kids from standard 7 to standard 9 about various facets of having a tobacco-free environment. This deals with informing them about various ways on how they can enforce a tobacco-free environment and apprising them about other related guidelines,” says Chaddha.

She adds that they will be working in close co-ordination with the education department of the government to ensure implementation of goals.

“We need their support in this to ensure better surroundings for school children,” she concludes.