Transport Department to initiate vigorous ‘anti-tobacco’ campaign
Srinagar: Authorities in Jammu and Kashmir have decided to act tough against smokers as officials of the transport department have been asked to effectively implement tobacco control laws in public transport buses and bus stands across the state.
Officials of the state Transport Department have directed the subordinate staff 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,” the order issued by the department said.
Pertinently, officials have been authorized under COTPA to fine smokers in public conveyances.
“The violations can attract a fine of up to Rs 200. Besides, ‘No Smoking’ signages of 60x30cm should be displayed in all public vehicles at a prominent place, as mandated by section-4 of the Act,” the order further said.
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.
“The compliance report on the action-taken by the designated officer by the end of every month should also be forwarded to the transport department’s office. Transport Commissioner is also requested to direct all the transport unions registered with the department that they should distribute stickers depicting ‘No Smoking Areas’ and this should be a binding on them,” 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.