Campaign against smoking in public places loses sting

The Indian  Express

The campaign against smoking at public places and sale of gutkha packets within 100 metres of educational institutions seems to have lost steam in the city with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) unable to strictly implement Sections 4 and 6 of the Control of Tobacco Products Act (COTPA). After an impressive show in 2010-11, as seen from the fines collected from violators, 2011-12 saw a dip in number of people being fined. Food and Drug Administration officials admit that the focus on regularisation of licenses of food vendors under the Food and Safety Standards Act was partly responsible for the decline in 2011-12.

In 2010-11, the FDA’s sustained COTPA campaign saw an impact across the state with Rs 8 lakh being collected as fines across the state of which over Rs 1 lakh was from Pune. In 2011-12, not even Rs 1 lakh was collected in the state and in Pune city, it was minimal.

FDA Joint Commissioner Chandrakant Salunkhe said that 605 people were fined in 2010-11 for violating Section 4 of COTPA that prohibits smoking at public places and Rs 92,944 was collected as fines from them and Rs 36,050 was collected as fines from shops selling gutkha within 100 metres of education institutions thus violating Section 6 of the COTPA.

In 2008, smoking was banned at public places including bus-stops, railway stations, restaurants, hotels, and pubs. While FDA has the authority to penalise offenders, under the COTPA, several government agencies including departments like central excise, income tax, customs, sales, postmasters and others were authorised to fine people found smoking at public places. Ahead of World No Tobacco Day on May 31, activists like Dr Pankaj Chaturvedi rued that there has been poor implementation and enforcement of the rule.

When contacted, District Collector Vikas Deshmukh, who is the coordinator of the anti-tobacco campaign, admitted that not many programmes had been conducted recently. “However, we are planning several new initiatives and are in contact with NGOs,” he said.

At the Pune Municipal Corporation, a drive against hookah bars eventually led to closure of the activity at places like Cafe 7 at Camp, Framaish at NIBM, Mash at Undri, CO2 near Chandni Chowk, Kulba at NIBM road, Jashan at Wanowrie, Lazy Pipes at NIBM road and Shisha cafe at Koregaon Park.


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