Polling booths in UP declared no smoking zones

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Lucknow : In an encouraging initiative aimed at protecting people from the health hazards of passive smoking, the Chief Electoral Officer of Uttar Pradesh has declared all polling stations as no smoking zones in the upcoming UP state assembly polls.

The practice was followed in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections but has been ordered in an assembly poll for the first time.

According to officials, the Election Commission has written to the medical and health department to ensure the ban on smoking at all polling stations in the districts of UP. The medical and health departments in turn have written to all District Magistrates of the state for the same.

The district electoral officers have also been asked to display signages of 60x30 cms outside the polling booths informing voters about the booths being no smoking zones.

The Chief Election Commissioner of India issued instructions in its handbook to all the presiding officers of the Election Commission of the state to put a complete ban on smoking inside all polling booths throughout the country.

According to the Global Adult Tobacco Survey (GATS) India 2009-2010 released by the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare (MoHFW), the government conveys that 33.9 per cent population of UP is using tobacco in some form. Uttar Pradesh has 2.3 per cent cigarette smokers, 12.4 per cent 'bidi' smokers and 25.3 per cent smokeless tobacco users.

Binoy Mathew, involved in the Tobacco Control Programme in UP, welcomed this as a great initiative and told IANS that they feel encouraged at such initiatives as it generates a lot of awareness.