After launching a ‘#SmokefreeBengaluru’ campaign last year, the civic body is gearing up to act against illegal smoking areas in restaurants and eateries across the city.
In a circular issued on Wednesday, the BBMP said that it is mandatory for pubs, bars, restaurants, clubs or hotels, with a seating capacity of more than 30, to get a no objection certificate (NOC) from the BBMP’s Tobacco Control Cell if they wish to have a designated smoking zone, as per the regulations. It has threatened to initiate legal action and cancel trade licences of violators.
This move, said civic officials, will help protect staff and non-smoking customers from the ill-effect of second-hand smoke.
Though the Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products (Prohibition of Advertisement and Regulation of Trade and Commerce, Production, Supply and Distribution) Act, 2003, and the Karnataka Prohibition of Smoking and Protection of Non-smokers Health Act, 2001, prohibit smoking in public areas and in any area that serves food/ alcohol or any other items, many eateries have self-designated smoking zones. Most of these zones do not follow the specified norms and regulations.
Mayor R. Sampath Raj, in a press release, stated that there was no safe level of passive smoking. He pointed out that the Department of Fire and Emergency Services had also raised concerns and cited smoking as a potential cause for a fire hazard.
On Tuesday, oncologist U.S. Vishal Rao, who is also a member of the High-powered Committee on Tobacco Control instituted by the state government, gave a presentation on effects of passive smoking. The Global Adult Tobacco Survey (GATS) has shown that exposure to tobacco smoke by nonsmokers is 23.9% at public places and 14% of this is at eateries, hotels, bars, pubs, clubs and restaurants.
BBMP's Chief Health Officer Manoranjan Hegde told The Hindu that the civic body had held a meeting with the stakeholders, including Bruhat Bangalore Hotels' Association, with regard to ensuring all eateries are smoke-free.
He also said the BBMP would soon conduct a drive to check if the smoking zones at the various eateries were in compliance with the COTPA regulations.