In a bid to crack down on those smoking in public places, the state health department is studying the possibility of declaring roads as public property. Smoking in public spaces is prohibited under Section 4 of the Cigarette and Other Tobacco Products Act, 2003. With the proposed ban on roadside smoking, the government hopes to discourage people from smoking near pavement stalls.
The matter will be brought up in the next state health committee meeting. “We are hoping to ban smoking on roads, if they are declared public property, just like railway stations and hospitals,” said Dr Sadhana Tayade, assistant director at Directorate of Health Services (DHS).
“The idea is to either convert them into public property or put signages on roads as ‘no-smoking zones’,” she added.
According to the latest report by the Tobacco Institute of India, 61 traders were found to be selling cigarette packets with no pictorial warning in Mumbai.
Pune has 36 such cigarette traders flouting this directive, while Nagpur has 16. Apart from these three districts, 105 cigarette traders sell loose cigarettes or packets with no pictorial warnings across the state. While even Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has powers to penalise traders flouting COTPA, lack of manpower has acted as an impediment in implementation of the law.
“We are also coming across imported brands that have no pictorial warning. The traders can be prosecuted only after police intervention,” said Dr Balasaheb Mote, in charge of non-communicable disease cell at DHS. Data gathered from DHS showed that there are also 66 paan traders in Mumbai, 102 in Nagpur and 164 in Pune who sell prohibited tobacco products.
The DHS is now set to carry large-scale campaigns against public smoking through posters. A tobacco enforcement cell under DHS will also be formed comprising officials from education department, police and health department.