Jammu, January 14: Demanding an immediate end to use of cigarette and tobacco products in public transport vehicles, senior BJP leader Lal Singh Thursday asked authorities to act tough against people involved in any violations.
Inaugurating the 27th Road Safety Week, themed at ‘Making Public Transport Vehicles Smoke Free’ in Jammu, the senior leader said that the officials of the transport department should effectively implement tobacco control laws in public transport buses and bus stands across the state.
“The menace of tobacco use is not only affecting the health of the people in the state but our tourism Industry as well is taking a hit as tourists who throng the state in large numbers also feel irritated by the use of tobacco and other products by the transporters and the general public during travel,” he said.
He also hailed the efforts of Voluntary Health Association of India (VHA) for initiating such drives. Singh also released a poster issued by VHAI displaying mandatory guidelines for transport department officials to ensure ‘smoke free’ vehicles in the state.
Lal Singh also appreciated the gesture of the officials of the transport department who initiated a drive of sticking ‘No Tobacco’ signage’s’ in the commercial vehicles across the state.
“Today only we have ensured that at least 100 commercial vehicles are fitted with the signage boards. Our department has taken up the initiative and in coming weeks and days our officials will ensure that all commercial vehicles carry these signage boards,” an official of the department said.
Pertinently, officials of the state Transport Department have already been directed to take necessary steps for making public places like bus stands, commercial vehicles and all public conveyances including Transport offices as ‘No Smoking Areas and Zones’.
“All officials are directed to implement Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products (Prohibition of Advertisement and Regulation of Trade and Commerce Production, Supply and Distribution) Act (COTPA) in the department and to strictly enforce anti-tobacco laws in the public transport system of the state,” an order issued earlier by the department said.
The order also authorized officials of the department to fine smokers in public conveyances under the COTPA act.
Similarly, directions have also been issued to ensure that there are no direct and indirect advertisements, sponsorship of tobacco products on public conveyances, as mandated by sec-5 of COTPA, the order said.
Notably, J&K Voluntary Health Association, a non-profit organization working in the field of tobacco-control in the state initiated an advocacy campaign with the transport department to ensure that the public transport system in the state is made tobacco-free.
The COTPA Act enacted in 2003 and applicable to the entire country is aimed to discourage consumption of tobacco products through progressive restrictions and to protect non-smokers from passive smoking.
Many States across the county have taken effective steps for implementing COTPA. Prohibition on smoking in public spaces, prohibition on all forms of direct and indirect advertisement, promotion and sponsorship of tobacco products, prohibition on sale of tobacco products to minors and within a radius of 100 yards of educational institutions, and mandatory depiction of specified health warnings on all tobacco products are some of the major provisions of COTPA.
Interestingly, 26.6% population in Jammu & Kashmir is using tobacco product in one or the other of its forms. The state has 12% cigarette smokers, 3.8% bidi smokers and 8.0% smokeless tobacco users. J&K’s cigarette use prevalence (12%) is almost double the nationwide prevalence of 5.7%. It has come to light that the highest proportion of adults (67.9%) exposed to tobacco smoke in offices are in J&K and the lowest (15.4%) are in Chandigarh.
2015 Kashmir Despatch