Nearly six years after the Union government banned smoking in public places, it continues to be a concern in many public places, including the Kempegowda International Airport.

On the occasion of World No Smoking Day observed on second Wednesday of every March, researchers and public health experts spoke on the need for tackling smoking in public places in the larger interest of society.

Addressing presspersons here on Wednesday, Upendra Bhojani from the Institute of Public Health (IPH) released a study report on tobacco awareness done by Johns Hopkins Group that shows a slight improvement in most smoke-free measures in Karnataka.

Quoting the study, Dr. Bhojani said: “When the results of October 2013 survey are compared with that of August 2012 findings, a decrease in four per cent was observed among people smoking indoors. The placement of mandatory signage has almost doubled from 23 per cent in 2012 to 41 per cent in 2013.”

He said while it may be common knowledge that smoking is a primary risk factor for all respiratory problems that may even cause lung cancer, passive smokers are at greater risk.

He said it was unfortunate that many public places, including the international airport were not following the norms of Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products (Prohibition of Advertisement and Regulation of Trade and Commerce, Production, Supply and Distribution) Act, 2003, popularly known as COPTA.

“The dedicated smoking zone in the airport is not structured as per the rules laid by the Act and the same could pose health hazards to other passengers in the form of passive smoking,” he said.

Mohan Raj, a victim of passive smoking, alleged that airport authorities were least bothered about public health. “Although I have brought this to their notice, they have not responded to my letter,” he said.

Pragati Hebbar, advocacy officer at IPH, said lack of awareness regarding displaying “No-Smoking” signages and prohibiting smoking in public places had been a major drawback. “Although awareness is on the rise now, there should be increased enforcement of the law,” she said.

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