For student smokers, Delhi University to have rehab centre


New Delhi : After declaring Delhi University’s north campus a no-smoking zone earlier this year, its students union has taken the initiative a step further. DU is set to have its own rehabilitation centre for student smokers in 15 days.

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Announcing the latest initiative at a function Tuesday, Delhi University Students Union (DUSU) president Amrita Bahari said Health Minister Anbumani Ramadoss approved the proposal to set up the rehabilitation centre in no time.

“Declaring the DU north campus as tobacco-free is one of my biggest achievements. Last month we invited the health minister to our campus and he was very impressed with the whole scenario and supported our campaign whole-heartedly,” Bahari told IANS on the sidelines of the function.

“Many students, after being fined for smoking in the campus, used to come to me and say that this is a habit that they simply cannot give up because they are addicted to smoking. That was a clear signal that a rehabilitation centre was what they needed and not just campaigns,” she said.

According to Bahari, the equipment for the centre was being set up and it would be opened in a fortnight.

At a function last month, Ramadoss said that the DUSU initiative assumes even more significance in the context of his announcement of a complete ban on smoking in public places from Oct 2.

The government has launched the National Tobacco Control Programme (NTCP) in the 11th Five-Year Plan to implement anti-tobacco laws. India is one of the pioneer signatories of the WHO framework convention on tobacco control (FCTC).

“My tenure comes to an end in a few days as re-elections will be held Sep 5. However, whether we stay in power or not, care will be taken that privacy of the students who come to the rehab centre will be given top priority. The centre will be both media and parents’ attention proof!” she said.

Students, at this point, have a mixed reaction to the initiative.

Rahul Garg, a second-year student, said students who smoke are not so heavily addicted that they would need rehabilitation.

“At the college many students take to smoking as a style statement. They are dependent on the idea of looking cool for which they smoke, not because they are addicted to smoking itself,” he said.

Sanjida Sheikh, another student, hailed the idea.

“Although not many student smokers are addicted to smoking, they just might be so in future if not helped. And since most of them would not like to reveal these things to their parents, the assurance that his or her privacy will be maintained is a good thing. It is a good step,” Sheikh said.

Delhi University is one of the largest universities in the country with over 40,000 students.