B'lore lags behind in enforcing ban on tobacco sale, ads

The Bangalore police could book a mere 62 cases in violation of Cotpa Act, 2003—which prohibits advertisement and regulation of tobacco business—between January and August this year, and collected a paltry Rs 17,210 as fine.

The development is disturbing as Bangalore has the largest population of smokers and tobacco sellers in the State. It is also shocking to see that districts like Mysore, Tumkur, Hassan, Bidar, Koppal and Chikkaballapur have not registered a single case in this regard this year.

On a more positive note, however, Gadag district has registered 3,380 cases and Rs 2,52,615 was collected as fine, followed by Belgaum, with 1,897 cases and Rs 1,89,425, collected as fine.

Bijapur has registered 1,825 cases and seen a collection of Rs 1,81,150 as fine and Chikmagalur has collected Rs 1,64,900 as fine for violation of the Cotpa Cigarette and Other Tobacco Products (Prohibition of Advertisement and Regulation of Trade and Commerce, Production Supply and Distribution) Act.

The fines have been collected for smoking in public places (Section 4), direct or indirect advertisement of tobacco products (Section 5), sale of tobacco products to a minor (Section 6A), prohibition of selling of tobacco products within 100 yards from any educational institutions (Section 6B) and compulsory pictorial warning on tobacco products (Section 7).

Although the Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike’s (BBMP) Tobacco Cell has collected about Rs 80,000 as fine, the Cotpa has not been stringently enforced in the City. Palike sources said the reason could be lack of awareness among authorised officers who are designated persons to collect fine for violation of Section 4 of Cotpa Act at various public places.

Advertising is one way how the tobacco industry lures customers, most of whom are youngsters, according to representatives of the State anti-tobacco cell. The current health trends in Karnataka show a disturbing trend of tobacco-related illnesses such as cancer, heart attacks and lung diseases among people in early 30s. Talking about pictorial warnings, the representatives highlighted that many imported cigarette and beedi packets did not have pictorial warnings on the cover which was sheer violation of the Cotpa.

Drive to remove illegal advertisements

Health and Family Welfare Minister, U T Khader, along with Bangalore City Police Commissioner Raghavendra Auradkar, took the initiative to take off illegal advertisements on tobacco on Saturday. Besides removing illegal advertisements, pictorial warning stickers were pasted on shops.

The minister found that tobacco products like super zarda had no specific pictorial warning on the sachets.

He ordered the officers concerned to take action against the company for violation and to check the content of the sachets in the labs. The minister also warned shopkeepers against selling such products.

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