In Bihar, kick the butt or be ready to pay fine
Abhishek Verma, working for a telecom company, has decided not to ever smoke in public again.
Despite the “Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products (Prohibition of Advertisement and Regulation of Trade and Commerce, Production, Supply and Distribution) Act, 2003” coming into force, Verma and his peers cared a damn about the penal provisions of the Act until he found that the Bihar’s Health Department has cracked the whip and asked the Patna police to slap fine on six offenders.
This was the first time that a team of officials from State’s Tobacco Control Cell, assisted by the district police, penalised six people for violating the ban on smoking in public.
“This is just a beginning. We will carry out more raids in the days to come and book all those who violate the law,” said Sanjay Kumar, executive director, Bihar State Health Society and chairman of the cell.
With the law in place, the DSP (headquarters) has been made the nodal officer for enforcing the legislation. “All the officers-in-charge of the police stations have been authorised to collect fines from the offenders,” Kumar added.
The Tobacco Control Cell has been asked to concentrate on two sections of the Act. While Section 4 bans smoking in public places, Section 6 prohibits sale of tobacco products to minors. It also bans the sale and purchase of the products near educational institutions.
As per the law, a fine up to Rs 200 is imposed for smoking in public and sale of tobacco products to minors.
Bihar had recently banned sale of gutkha and other similar products containing tobacco or nicotine after it was reported that consumption of tobacco in the state was highest in the country. Against the national average of 35 per cent, tobacco consumption in Bihar was 53.5 per cent.