On New Year’s Eve, Mumbai’s young citizens cast votes against tobacco

On New Year’s Eve, Mumbai’s young citizens cast votes against tobacco

Children drive home anti‐tobacco message via mock polling campaign, complete with dummy political party and polling booth

In keeping with the spirit of ringing in the New Year with hopes, goals and resolutions, school children associated with NGO Salaam Bombay Foundation (SBF), staged a mock election drive resolving to strive for a Tobacco‐free world in 2014.

Building on the election mood in the country, the school children were seen dressed as party
workers of a make‐believe political party fighting for the rights of children to live in a tobacco‐
free world. Calling themselves the ‘Tambakhu Mukhta Party’, the children went about urging
people to cast their vote against tobacco at a mock polling booth set up for the purpose, at
Colaba Municipal School. Little children were seen wearing white ‘Gandhi topis’ with the slogan
‘Mai Tambakhu Mukhta Hoon’ and queuing up to vote against tobacco. The venue displayed
anti‐tobacco banners and placards which urged people to vote for a tobacco‐free life in the
coming year.

The  children  are part of  a  continuing programme  called  Super Army, developed by  Salaam
Bombay Foundation, which empowers children to wage the war against tobacco with weapons
of  art, theatre  and music.  The  programme  presently  covers  over  230  BMC schools  across
Mumbai and is committed to spreading awareness against tobacco among children, their peers
and in their community.

Speaking of this initiative Devika Chadha, Programme Director, Salaam Bombay Foundation said,  “It  is  amazing to see  how this  young  brigade recognizes  its responsibility  of  not  only   making a right choice in voting for a Tobacco‐Free future but also motivating adults to take the right decisions. Children can make a big difference to society by spreading such a significant message of a healthy lifestyle.”

Appreciating the  efforts  of the Maharashtra  State Government  in  banning  gutkha  and  pan
masala in the state, Mr Amber Singh Magar, Principal, Colaba Municipal School, said, “We are
very happy with the government’s decision to ban tobacco products. Moreover our students
have made us proud by continuing to creating awareness against tobacco thereby supporting
this ban. We hope more people do join in and vote (pledge) for Tobacco Free 2014.”

Young school children leading such initiatives pave the way to an inevitable tobacco‐free future
ahead, Mr Magar added.

About Salaam Bombay Foundation Salaam Bombay Foundation, a non‐profit organization, was established in 2002 to empower children to say no to tobacco. The organization provides children with training, performance and  reflection  platforms  to  develop  life  skills  that  lead  to  personal  and  vocational empowerment.   These  platforms  are made  available through the  Sports, Arts  and  Tobacco control advocacy programmes.  At Salaam Bombay Foundation, we believe that empowerment leads to informed decisions. The organization is active in 87 municipal and 34 government‐ aided schools  in  Mumbai  and  its  outreach  programmes  have reached  27  districts  of rural Maharashtra.