Tamil Nadu: School students to be checked for tobacco abuse; awareness to be intensified

Doctors were asked to look for tooth stains while checking the students during monthly medical camps in schools
Image for representational purpose only | (Pic: Express)
Image for representational purpose only | (Pic: Express)

Based on the instructions of Tamil Nadu's School Education Department, chief education officers (CEOs) have asked all school headmasters and teachers to check if students are using banned tobacco products and drugs. They have also been asked to ensure that doctors look for tooth stains while checking the students during monthly medical camps in schools.

In a circular, the Chengalpattu CEO has asked the headmasters and teachers to inform the police about shops that sell banned tobacco products in the vicinity of schools. "The details of the complaint should also be sent to the CEO's office," the circular states, as per a report by The New Indian Express.

"If the students are found using tobacco products like Cool Lip or drugs, those students should be given counselling. School management along with the police, health department, food safety officials, the National Service Scheme (NSS) and the National Cadet Corps (NCC) cadets should spread awareness against banned tobacco products and drugs," it added. Similar directives were sent to schools in other districts as well.

Last month, the state's school education secretary asked all the educational institutions to create anti-drug clubs to spread awareness against drug abuse. Membership in the clubs is voluntary for students from Class IX onwards. A minimum of five members of the club per institution would be designated as office bearers.

"Following this order, awareness against drugs was spread across all the schools in the state. As per our knowledge, nearly 30 per cent of the students use banned tobacco products that are sold in shops with different code names. We also asked the students to anonymously inform about the shops that sell tobacco products and the code words used for purchasing them. This was then given to the district child protection officers, who said it would be sent to the police through the collectors for further action," said a headmaster from Namakkal.

However, teachers admitted that the usage of tobacco products continues despite the awareness programmes and counselling given to the students. "Though we are informing about the shops selling these products to the students, we are not sure what action is being taken against them. Students still manage to get these products. We urge the state government to take strict action against the shops selling them," said a member of the Tamil Nadu PG Teachers' Association, as per TNIE.

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