Ban on smoking in public places goes up in air

Public health experts have expressed concern over fizzling out of the ban on smoking in public places, especially in the vicinty of schools.

They were speaking at an awareness meet organised by the Institute of Public Health (IPH) in the City on the occasion of ‘No Smoking Day’.

Dr Thirumal Rao, consultant on educational issues with IPH and former deputy director with the Education department, said that tobacco products were still easily available to students near educational institutions. 

Dr Pragati from IPH said Section 4 of the Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products (Prohibition of Advertisement and Regulation of Trade and Commerce, Production, Supply and Distribution) Act (COTPA), 2003, bans smoking in public places that include hotels, restaurants, pubs, workplaces, shopping malls, cinema halls, educational institutions, libraries and hospitals and requires the mandatory ‘no-smoking’ signage to be put up.
“Unfortunately, there is lack of awareness regarding placing signage and prohibiting smoking in public places,” she said.

Health experts highlighted how even the Kempegowda International Airport is not following the provisions of the COTPA. Dr Upendra Bhojani, health expert and faculty member with IPH, said, “The airport is not following the provisions of COTPA.

The dedicated smoking zone in the airport is not structured as per the Act. The front doors of the zone are not enclosed properly which could pose health hazards to other passengers.” 

Mohan Raj, a cancer victim due to passive smoking, highlighted that he had sent a letter to airport authorities with regard to violation of rules.

“They were least bothered about public health as they have not responded to my letter,” he said. The experts also presented the new study report on tobacco awareness done by Johns Hopkins Group.

“The report shows that there has been slight improvement in most smoke-free measures in Karnataka. The placement of mandatory signage has almost doubled from 23 per cent in 2012 to 41 per cent in 2013, which is good. There has been a decrease of four per cent of people smoking in indoor spaces,” they said.

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