Representatives from stakeholder departments take part in discussion on anti-tobacco legislation in Goa
Porous borders have made it difficult to implement the ban on gutka in Goa despite the regular raids, Jyothi Sardessai, Deputy Director of Food and Drug Administration (FDA), lamented here recently.
She was participating in a discussion on anti-tobacco legislation wherein representation from all major stakeholders, Ravindra Nadkarni, Nodal Officer from Directorate of Health Services, Pamela Mascarenhas, Deputy Director of Department of Tourism, and Atmaram Deshpande, Superintendent of Police, spoke of the steps taken by each department in implementing anti-tobacco legislation.
While gutka is banned in Goa, it is not so in Karnataka and Maharashtra, and hence it is easily smuggled here, she said.
However, since the implementation of the ban in the State, FDA has conducted 90 raids, booked 64 cases and collected Rs. 14,21,621 as fine, she added.
The discussion was part of a sensitisation workshop organised by the Voluntary Health Association of Goa (VHAG) in collaboration with Voluntary Health Association of India (VHAI), National Organisation for Tobacco Eradication (NOTE) and Goa Civic and Consumer Action Network (GOACAN).
Anti-tobacco activists expressed indignation that people were seen freely smoking defying anti-smoking rules inside the Dabolim international airport.
They asked the representative of the State Tourism Department to ensure that the airports should have no-smoking signage and also ensure that action was taken against people violating the law.
The Goa police will notify special officers to ensure smoke-free public places in the State, Mr. Atmaram Deshpande said.
People might be booked for smoking in public places once the designated officers to enforce legislation prohibiting use of tobacco and laws related to tobacco control are notified, he cautioned.
Each police station will have a designated officer not less than the rank of a police sub-inspector, he said.
The Control of Tobacco Products Act (COTPA) prohibits smoking in hotels, restaurants, workplaces, shopping malls, cinema halls, educational institutions and libraries, hospitals, auditorium, open auditorium, amusement centres, stadium, railway station and bus stop.
To a question, Mr. Deshpande pointed out that complete ban on tobacco in Goa will not work unless there is comprehensive legislation coming from the Union Government.
There was a common refrain that each of the agencies responsible for implementation of COTPA should be asked to put up no-smoking signage and take steps to stop tobacco from being sold in the vicinity of 100 yards of educational institutions or religious places.