Meet the crusader who has brought a complete ban on gutka sales in Odisha

imran ali

Imran Ali, a responsible resident of Odisha witnessed the dangerous effects of tobacco in his city while pursuing his Master’s in Social Work degree. Imran was completely in shock to see how young kids as young as 10 years were addicted to the tobacco products. The experience left Imran shell-shocked, and the result was that he started his personal crusade to battle against tobacco in his state.

This campaign is like our addiction in the fight against addiction. We have decided to donate one rupee and one hour for the country each day, says Md. Imran Ali.

Along with the help of his friends, he started awareness programs in the slums and talked to parents about the rising problem. Gradually, Imran brought together some like-minded young people in Bhubaneshwar and formed Nasha Mukti Yuva Sankalp (NMYS). NMYS is a voluntary campaign against tobacco/alcohol addiction and substance abuse. 30 young people join in hands with Imran to work voluntarily for the cause. They started by conducting awareness programs in schools and colleges across the city, slowly moving on to advocacy in a planned manner.

We noticed that many OMFED (Orissa State Cooperative Milk Producers’ Federation Limited) booths in the state were turned into tobacco and smoking hubs. One could find tobacco products more than milk in many of these booths. I, along with a friend Jitendra Kumar Sahoo, filed a PIL in the Odisha High Court, seeking a ban on the sale of tobacco products at milk parlours, says Imran.

imran ali

Biren Tripathi, a senior HC advocate agreed to take up the case for free and it resulted in victory. The court ordered a ban on the sale of tobacco products in Odisha milk parlours in 2011.

Winning the case gave us a lot of confidence. I felt that when you are doing some good work, it gets noticed and recognized, says Imran.

After winning their half of the battle, the group started campaigning for a complete ban on the sale and business of gutka. This time, an NGO named Committee for Legal Aid to Poor stepped forward to help them. Nasha Mukti Yuva Sankalp was successful once again and the state implemented a complete ban of gutka in 2013.

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