Village in AP to be declared tobacco-free

Hyderabad: Sustained efforts of members of a tiny village in Andhra Pradesh have paid off as the place would be declared tobacco-free tomorrow, sources said.

The announcement would be made on May 31, which is celebrated as the World No Tobacco Day. Pongalipaka, a village with a population of 1,632 people, located in Madugula mandal and about 48 km from here, will be delcared a tobacco free village tomorrow. It is a joint initiative of the Public Health Foundation of India (PHFI) and Nature.

According to Pongalipaka sarpanch (village-head) U Demudu N Satyanaryana, efforts in this direction began on August 15 last year when it was decided that no villager would be allowed to chew tobacco and tobacco-based products like khaini and gutka.

The villagers held a meeting (gram sabha) and adopted a resolution to impose heavy penalty on those found smoking or chewing tobacco, gutka, khaini and such products.

Under a joint initiative of PHFI and `Nature`, all the shops selling tobacco in the village were asked to stop selling tobacco and related products. In November they stopped selling tobacco and related products and diverted to other businesses, the sarpanch said.

Pongalipaka had bagged Nirmal Gram Puraskar in 2007 for maintaining good hygiene and sanitation.
"We are very happy with the outcome of our sustained campaign and we are confident that 10 more villages in the district in GK Veedhi, Anantagiri, Paderu, Atchutapuram, Chintapalle and Koyyuru mandals in the district will be become totally tobacco-free soon," a PHFI spokesperson said.

The campaign has been implemented for a period of four years in six districts of Andhra Pradesh and parts of Gujarat with sanction of $5million by Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

Apart from Visakhapatnam, the campaign is being implemented under Strengthening of Tobacco Control Efforts using Innovative Partnerships and Strategies (STEPS) project in East Godavari, Prakasham, Karimnagar, Mahabubnagar and Kurnool.