Introduction to Blog

I launched the website and the Blog after having spoken to government officials, political analysts and security experts specializing in South Asian affairs from three continents. The feedback was uniformly consistent. The bottom line is that when Kashmiris are suffering and the world has its own set of priorities, we need to find ways to help each other. We must be realistic, go beyond polemics and demagoguery, and propose innovative ideas that will bring peace, justice and prosperity in all of Jammu and Kashmir.

The author had two reasons to create this blog. First, it was to address the question that was being asked repeatedly, especially, by journalists and other observers in the U.S., U.K., and Canada, inquiring whether the Kashmiri society was concerned about social, cultural and environmental challenges in the valley given that only political upheaval and violence were reported or highlighted by media.

Second, the author has covered the entire spectrum of societal issues and challenges facing Kashmiri people over an 8-year period with the exception of politics given that politics gets all the exposure at the expense of REAL CHALLENGES that will likely result in irreversible degradation in the quality of life and the standard of living for future generations of Kashmiris to come.

The author stopped adding additional material to the Blog once it was felt that most, if not all, concerns, challenges and issues facing the Kashmiri society are cataloged in the Blog. There are over 1900 entries in the Blog and most commentaries include short biographical sketches of authors to bring readers close to the essence of Kashmir. Unfortunately, the 8-year assessment also indicates that neither Kashmiri civil society, nor intellectuals or political leadership have any inclination or enthusiasm in pursuing issues that do not coincide with their vested political agendas. What it means for the future of Kashmiri children and their children is unfathomable. But the evidence is all laid out.

This Blog is a reality check on Kashmir. It is a historical record of how Kashmir lost its way.

Vijay Sazawal, Ph.D.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

In or Out, It is Dirty Air

After already scoring high as a state with one of the most polluted cities (Srinagar), J&K scores another triumph as a Smokers Heaven

J&K Fast Becoming North India’s Puffing Capital

Aditi Tandon (Tribune)

Jammu and Kashmir is fast emerging as the smoking capital of north India. Fresh analysis of tobacco prevalence data in the country has revealed that adults in J-K are spending more on cigarettes and bidis than their counterparts in other northern states.

Smoky haze

• J&K has the highest spending on cigarettes, bidis in the North, says a latest survey

• It also has the highest cigarette use prevalence in north India

• The state has highest number of adults who are exposed to tobacco smoke at workplace

The state even beats the densely populated Delhi. Also, J&K’s monthly spending on ‘smoking tobacco’ far outstrips the national monthly expenditure averages. While nationally, smokers aged 15 and above spend Rs 399.20 a month on cigarettes and Rs 93.40 on bidis, those in J-K spend Rs 513.60 and Rs 134.20, respectively, on these tobacco forms. Bidi expenditure in J&K is thus 1.5 times the country’s average.

Consequently, health hazards due to passive smoking are also more in J&K than elsewhere in the North.

The latest Global Adult Tobacco Survey reveals that J&K has the highest cigarette smoking prevalence among the northern states -Himachal Pradesh, Punjab, Chandigarh, Uttrakhand, Haryana and Delhi. Prevalence for J-K is 12% as against 9.9% for Delhi. Punjab and Haryana have the lowest (3.7% and 3.8%, respectively) proportion of adults smoking cigarettes.

J&K’s cigarette use prevalence (12%) is almost double the nationwide prevalence of 5.7%. “These are huge areas of concern for J&K, not traditionally seen as a state where the use of smoking tobacco would be so high. The analysis will help state governments focus better on problem areas. While nationally the use of smokeless tobacco forms is twice than that of smoking tobacco, north India bucks the trend and reports the reverse,” Monika Arora of the Public Health Foundation of India (PHFI), told The Tribune.

Trends on state-level second-hand smoke (SHS) exposure have also been made available for the first time. It has come to light that the highest proportion of adults (67.9%) exposed to tobacco smoke in offices are in J&K and the lowest (15.4%) are in Chandigarh.

On another major indicator of health impact of tobacco — SHS exposure at home — Uttarakhand fares the worst with 85% adults reporting smoke exposure followed by 82% in Himachal. Punjab reports the lowest (32.1%) SHS exposure at home. Even on tobacco cessation, Jammu and Kashmir lags behind most states in the North. Whereas Haryana reported the highest proportion of adults (34.2%) who attempted to quit smoking, Jammu and Kashmir reported only 29.6%. The national average of quit attempts is 38.4%. The Valley lags far behind.

PHFI and HRIDAY (Health and Related Information Dissemination among Youth) conducted the crucial analysis on tobacco burden in north India in association with the Health Ministry. The data is being disseminated to states.

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