Smoking Ban Goes Up In Smoke
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01 October 2010
No Budget Allocation To Enforce Act For Last Two Years
Three years after smoking was banned in public places by the central government, the ban has clearly gone up in smoke. Enforced on Gandhi Jayanti in 2008, the ban is non–existent as far as the state of Andhra Pradesh is concerned. The reason: no budget allocation for the enforcement of Cigarette and Other Tobacco Products Act 2003 for the last two years.
So, for now, there is no money to print challan books, enforcing mechanism, to advertise the Act among other requirements. "This is a low priority project for everybody," officials conclude. In the last three years of its implementation, 5,503 cases were booked till August this year and an amount of Rs 8,23,650 collected as penalty.
"There is a need to create awareness about the Act. But as of now, we do not have the machinery to do so. Though cases are being booked but only occasionally due to inadequate machinery and non–involvement of all the departments. Besides there is lot of resistance from the public when it comes to payment of penalty. Participation is required from all the departments as it is not a ‘health department’ project but a Government of India initiative," said Dr G Hanumanlu, joint director, (Industrial Health), DoH.
From the data pertaining to the number of cases booked, it only comes out that CID and various wings of the health department have been active to a certain extent in enforcing the Act.
Interestingly, CID has booked the maximum cases and collected a penalty of Rs 7.9 lakh of the total penalty amount of Rs 8.23 lakh collected over a period of three years since October 2008.
However, there has been no contribution whatsoever from the important departments like revenue, school and higher education, roads and buildings, regional transport authority and road transport corporation.
Sources say that the RTC has not given sufficient propaganda as bus stops are public places but there is no display of ‘No Smoking’ sign at any of the bus stops. Non displaying of signs is also a violation of the Act, officials add.
Nevertheless, officials say that even though every smoker is aware about the harmful effects of tobacco including the fact that 40 per cent of the cancers are due to use of tobacco but not every smoker is aware about the "ban on smoking in public places." Imposing penalty is not the only solution, they say.