A group of six young Mauritians, three in the age category of 14-22 years and three aged between 23 and 35 years received, today, cash prizes of Rs 20 000 (winner), Rs 15 000 (first runner-up) and Rs 10 000 (second runner-up). A prize presentation ceremony to reward these youth following their participation in an Info Clip Competition on the theme "Kifer zenes fimé? Ki solisyon to ena?" was thus held at the Rajiv Gandhi Science Centre, in Bell Village.
The competition, a joint initiative of Association VISA with the Ministry of Youth Empowerment, Sports and Recreation and the World Health Organization (WHO), was organised in the context of World No Tobacco Day 2020. A total of 46 young persons participated and were classified in two categories, namely: 14-22 years for the first one; and 23-35 years for the second.
The winner in the first category is Ms Pratibha Lochun, followed by Ms Jennisha Ponnousamy as first runner-up and Mr Tushar Boodhoo as second runner-up. As for the second category, the winner is Mr Bleck Lindor, with Mr Tovir Ramrooch and Ms Tejasvati Samboo as first and second runner-up respectively.
In his address at the ceremony, the Minister of Youth Empowerment, Sports and Recreation, Mr Stephan Toussaint highlighted that the competition acted as a platform for young people to become more aware of the harmful effects of tobacco and smoking. Therefore, participants can now in turn raise awareness and discourage their peers from being tempted by this scourge, he said. He also appealed to participants to act as ambassadors of the Ministry and of the WHO in promoting a tobacco and smoking-free society.
In addition, the Minister encouraged young Mauritians, who smoke because they find this activity 'fashionable', to visit the Ministry's website or Facebook page to find a list of activities offered for their well-being. Studies show that heavy smokers are more prone to be affected by the Covid-19 as they may develop non-communicable diseases and respiratory problems, he observed. These diseases, he stated, can result from the use of tobacco products.
Also present at the event, the WHO Representative in Mauritius, Dr Laurent Musango, for his part recalled that World No Tobacco Day 2020 was themed "Protecting youth from industry manipulation and preventing them from tobacco and nicotine use". He likewise pointed out that tobacco use kills more than eight million people around the world each year, while the tobacco industry spends around eight billion USD yearly in advertising.
As this industry mostly targets young people, Dr Musango emphasised that the WHO will continue to take more actions with the aim to sensitise the youth against the use of tobacco products. He further encouraged participants to join the fight to become a tobacco-free generation.