Trains, Railway stations to be made ‘tobacco free’ in Kashmir

Railway police initiates action against COTPA violations

Srinagar: With an aim to implement anti tobacco laws in trains and railway stations across Kashmir Valley, the Railway police has started action against those people who are found violating the COTPA act.
“During the month of July 2015 railway police made 44 challans and collected Rs. 4000 as fine from the people under section 4 of COTPA act for smoking in trains and at railway stations,” a police spokesman said.
He said that in addition to this the state police made 23,754 challans and collected Rs. 21.50 lakh as fine from the people in the state under section 4 of COTPA for smoking in public places during May 2013 to May 2015.
Pertinently, the Police Department has incorporated Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products (Prohibition of Advertisement and Regulation of Trade and Commerce Production, Supply and Distribution) Act (COTPA) violations in the monthly crime review for strengthening the public health measure at the district and sub-district level.
The State Police Chief is collating the violations for strengthening institutionalization of the mechanism and forwards the details on monthly basis to the Superintendents of Police (SSP’s) of the Districts.
Interestingly, the Police Department is putting the violations of COTPA as one of the agenda points in the monthly crime review of the Station House Officers (SHO’s) at the district level. J&K is the second state after Karnataka, where police department is printing and distributing its own challan books for COTPA enforcement.
The COTPA, enacted in 2003 and applicable to the entire country, was mainly aimed to discourage the consumption of cigarettes and other tobacco products by imposing progressive restrictions on public and to protect non-smokers from second-hand smoke.
“It is heartening to see that railway police in the state is coming forward to protect the health of people by supporting COTPA enforcement,” said Afzal Makhdomi, J&K Consultant for Tobacco Control, Voluntary Health Association of India (VHAI).
Importantly, the Global Adult Tobacco Survey (GATS) India by Ministry of Health & Family Welfare (MoHFW), Government of India conveys that 26.6% population of Jammu & Kashmir is using tobacco product in one or the other of its form. Jammu & Kashmir has 12% cigarette smokers, 3.8% bidi smokers and 8.0% smokeless tobacco users.
Jammu and Kashmir is fast emerging as the smoking capital of north India. Consequently, health hazards due to passive smoking are also more in J&K than elsewhere in the North.

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