Staff Reporter

Prohibition of tobacco material sale within 100 yards of educational institutes likely

Health Department comes out with rules a day before imposition of ban

It’s a great day for anti-tobacco activists

BHUBANESWAR: Chain smokers in the State had tense moments on Thursday as ban on smoking in public places came into effect. Fear of fine imposition crept into their minds after newspapers and news channels hyped the prohibition news.

However, the State government was not reportedly equipped to enforce the prohibition on Thursday. “Neither the State government had declared the smoking as compoundable offence nor were challan books issued to authorities designated to track smokers in public places,” said Itishree Kanungo of Voluntary Health Association of India-Aparajita, a non-government organisation that had been advocating for ban.

The State health department only came out with rules defining public places on Wednesday, a day before imposition of ban. The impact could be seen near railway stations, bus stops, roadside shops and other public places. Chain smokers tried different tricks to have a puff. While some were seen finishing a cigarette stick at lowest possible time while others found out shady corners, away from public gaze.

Deputy Commissioner of Police Himanshu Lal said there was no imposition of fines on people smoking in public places on Thursday but the police would intensify enforcing prohibition within a couple of days.

The day began here with a peace march by children and a few concerned citizens who covered a distance of 3 km by holding placards on supporting the ban and demanding for smoke free home and education institutions.

Signature campaign

Oranised by VHAI-Aparajita, the peace march also demanded entire implementation process of Cigarette and Other Tobacco Products Act 2003(COTPA) in the State. The march started from Forest Park and ended at Indira Gandhi Park followed by a signature campaign.

“It is a great day for anti-tobacco activists who are striving for healthy and smoke-free environment since a long time and the smoking ban is indeed a big achievement for people working in tobacco control” said Arabinda Behera, secretary, water resources, who came out to support the march. Meanwhile, the Commissionerate of Police for Bhubaneswar and Cuttack was planning to come out with a notification on Friday prohibiting selling of tobacco material within 100 yards of educational institutes. Sources said the notification would have a provision that if a vendor wanted to sell tobacco material, he would have to shift its shop outside the 100-yard distance from educational institutes.