Coimbatore:About 400 people have been caught smoking in public places within the Race Course police limits in Coimbatore in the first seven months this year. However, for the whole of last year, only 412 cases were booked against smokers in public places in the Race Course limits, says police inspector Chandrasekar.
“Registration of cases against smokers has also curtailed unlawful assemblies to a great extent as anti-social elements usually gather near bakeries and discuss criminal plans over a cup of tea and a puff,” says the inspector.
However, official claims are smokescreens. Indeed, the ban on smoking in public places has gone up in smoke, quite literally. Smokers continue to puff up swirls at bus stops, parks and other public places in Coimbatore, with no hint or fear of penalty. “An SMS or a voice helpline where people can alert health officials on any violations of the ban imposed on smoking in public places is imperative for effective enforcement. Besides, people should realise the grave health risks it could pose to passive smokers,” says secretary of Citizens Voice Club C.M.J. Raman.
The ban on public smoking came into force in 2008 across the nation and the Un-ion health ministry had int-roduced a helpline where people can complain round-the-clock with an assurance that the details of the caller would be kept anonymous.
During the same year, 22,000 educational institutions across the nation were declared no-smoking areas. Six years later, students are seen smoking at teashops near their institutions, though it is banned, Mr Raman noted. Smokers and tobacco traders say that they need a ‘smoking zone’ like a no-smokinzone to prevent smoking in public places. “It is important for the civic body to provide toilets with an exhaust fan where people can smoke as it will otherwise be very difficult to curtail drivers and conductors from smoking. The corporation also can put up signs indicating areas where they can smoke so as to prevent smoking in public,” observed a tobacco trader.
When the Control of Tobacco Products Act was enacted in the state in 2011, the first year witnessed a collection of RS 22 lakh from over 19,000 violators. But over the years, there seems to be a deterioration as the sale of gutka and other tobacco-related products continues unabated.
Location: Tamil Nadu