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Man who made Chandigarh first smoke free city gets WHO award
Shruti Setia Chhabra  Chandigarh | 1st Jun 2013

emant Goswami, whose legal interventions made Chandigarh India's first smoke free city in 2007, has been awarded the World No Tobacco Day award by the World Health Organisation (WHO).

The WHO award is given annually to organisations or persons for their contribution in tobacco control and demonstrating exemplary leadership in public health and tobacco control. Goswami has been given the recognition for his decade-long continued contribution to tobacco control.

Talking about the need to fight against tobacco he said, "Tobacco is a major problem for developing countries like India. According to WHO, nearly one million people die in India every year solely due to tobacco use. Globally 12% of all deaths among adults aged 30 years and over were attributable to tobacco, compared with 16% in India."

According to the WHO report released on the occasion of the " World No Tobacco Day 2013", "The tobacco industry sells a product that, unlike any other legal, commercial good, kills up to half of its regular users when consumed as directed by the manufacturer."

Goswami's legal initiatives have challenged the tough tobacco industry. He has filed hundreds of complaints against the violation of the tobacco control legislations and taken the industry to court on many occasions for acting against the public interest. In 2012, after a five-year long legal battle, the Punjab and Haryana High Court ordered the closure of all hookah bars and ordered the registration of hundreds of FIRs. As a result, all hookah bars across Punjab, Haryana and Chandigarh were closed down and FIRs were registered against all such outlets.

Goswami was also awarded the Global Smoke-Free Partnership Award in 2008 by the American Cancer Society and also the Extraordinary Activist Award. Hemant Goswami is also the founder chairperson of an NGO, the Burning Brain Society and Tobacco Free India Coalition. In 2005, Goswami also investigated and authored the WHO-Ministry of Health report on "Tobacco in Movies and its Impact on Youngsters" which resulted in the Union Ministry of Health prohibiting smoking and cigarette use in movies.

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