Anti-tobacco crusaders on Monday said the Centre lacks resolve in implementing measures to curb tobacco consumption and smoking in the country.
“It is not that nothing has happened after smoking was banned in public places last year. No smoking zones have been identified and are adhered to some extent. However, the people are yet to understand the rationale behind the ban,” Dr Mira Aghi, global tobacco expert, said on Monday.
She, with other experts, attributed the inadequate implementation of anti-tobacco measures to the pressure from tobacco industry.
“The tobacco industry is immensely powerful. They can go to any length to see that anti-tobacco laws are not implemented strictly,” Ms. Aghi said.
Ms. Aghi rued that the ban on smoking in movies was lifted earlier this year and the Government is not doing enough to re-implement it.
“The Centre is wishy-washy on the issue,” Ms. Aghi said.
Ms. Aghi, who has been active in anti-tobacco movement from 1975, is among several anti-tobacco crusaders participating in the ‘Smoke-free India’ workshop organized by International Union Against Tuberculosis and Lung Disease present at South Goa.
According to experts in the workshop, the Prohibition of Smoking in Public Places Rules 2008, enforced in the country on October 2 last year, which banned smoking in public places, needs to be implemented with more vigour.
“The implementation of the anti-tobacco law is tardy because it is not strategised,” Dr Prakash Gupta, Director of Healis Sekhsaria Institute of Public Health, said.
Referring to non implementation of pictorial warnings on tobacco products, Gupta said the tobacco industry wields great economic and political power.
“They have inroads into the government,” he said.
However, Mr. Gupta said the anti-tobacco awareness has helped a lot to curtail tobacco consumption in the country.
A year after the ban on smoking in public places was implemented, now the states are ready to measure its success.
“Before enacting this law, we had conducted nicotine monitoring at various places in the state. The before and after data would be compared,” Dr Bhavesh Modi, state tobacco control cell incharge of Gujarat government said.
He said the instruments which would gather the data were installed at 32 places including educational institutes, hotels, hospitals, government offices and entertainment areas.
He said they wanted Gujarat to be a smoke-free state.
The experts also presented figures to support their arguments. Accordingly, they said only 19 per cent of the tobacco consumed is in the form of cigarettes. Also, more than half of the tobacco consumed in the country is in the form of bidis.