Srinagar | June 9 : After the Government in Jammu & Kashmir directed for strict enforcement of tobacco control act COTPA 2003, the banking sector in the state has banned smoking in all bank work places and ATM’s.
The state’s leading bank, J&K bank which functions as a universal bank in the state issued a fresh circular to all its offices and branches asking its officials to ensure strict ban on smoking besides seeking action against the violators.
“Following upon the government’s anti-smoking campaign including Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products Act (COTPA – 2003), the bank has been issuing instructions from time to time to restrain public and staff members from smoking at work places,” the bank said in a fresh order issued from its corporate office here.
“All the Sectional and Business Unit Heads are, therefore, once again advised to ensure that smoking is completely banned within the office premises. Non-compliance in this regard shall attract strict disciplinary action against the culprits in addition to fine in monetary terms,” the circular read.
“Besides, all these Heads are directed to ensure that anti-smoking signages are placed quite visibly in all the office premises. Total compliance in this regard will be closely monitored,” the circular further said.
Pertinently, the state of Jammu and Kashmir is emerging as the smoking capital of north India as the state is emerging as one of the leading states on tobacco spending.
According to the Global Adult Tobacco Survey, (GATS) Government of India the state’s monthly spending on smoking tobacco as far outstrips the national monthly expenditure averages.
While nationally, smokers aged 15 and above spend Rs 399.20 a month on cigarettes and Rs 93.40 on bidis, those in J-K spend Rs 513.60 and Rs 134.20, respectively, on these tobacco forms.
Consequently, health hazards due to passive smoking are also more in J&K than elsewhere in the North.
Interestingly, another vital player in the banking sector in the state, the HDFC bank too has ensured COTPA compliance at all its offices and branches in the state.
“We have ensured that ‘No smoking’ stickers are displayed in our branches and ATM’s. Besides our branches are no smoking zones as customers are not allowed to smoke inside the branch premises and ATM’s,” an official of the bank said in a statement issued here.
“The fresh instructions by the banks to enforce COTPA act strictly is a welcome step as the move will ensure that the health of the public is protected in the state as the state has been witnessing an upsurge in the consumption of tobacco products leading to various kinds of abuse at the workplaces,” said Afzal Mukhdoomi, Consultant Tobacco Control, Voluntary Health Association of India.
2015 Kashmir Despatch