Hyderabad: The number of violations under the Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products Act (COTPA), 2003, has risen from 586 to 11,927 in the last two years within the limits of the Hyderabad Commiss-ionerate, reveals a Right to Information (RTI) query. In contrast, cases of violations of tobacco sale to minors have decreased from 135 to 40.
This year, Hyderabad city police along with the health and welfare department launched a campaign to make Hyderabad a smoke-free city. Public health groups appreciated the work done by the city police. Tobacco alone is responsible for 1.5 lakh cancers, 4.2 million heart diseases, and 3.7 million lung diseases every year in India, according to a World Health Organisation report.
The four important sections of COTPA are: Section 4: No person shall smoke in any public place; Section 5: Prohibition of Advertise-ment of Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products; Section 6(a): Vendors should not sell tobacco products to minors, and Section 6(b): Shops selling tobacco products are banned within 100 yards of any educational institution.
Speaking to Deccan Chronicle, RTI activist Akshay Kumar, who filed this RTI, said, “Section Section 6(a) of COTPA has not been strictly followed by the police. We have found a number of paan shops near educational institutions. There is a danger of youth getting attracted to it. The police are not taking any cognizance of this violation as they are waiting for complaints to be filed. They should be more responsible in that respect.”
In addition to that, there is only one dial 100 complaint from the public about smoking in public spaces. Mr Kumar said the smoke-free city campaign has completely failed in creating awareness among citizens regarding the redressal mechanism.
Bhavna B. Mukhopadhyay, chief executive, Voluntary Health Association of India, said, “On World No Tobacco Day various enforcement and public health organisations took an oath to reduce the impact of tobacco burden on the public. Since then COTPA has been seriously implemented in the city.”
Health activists have applauded the work of the Hyderabad task force in confiscating large numbers of E-cigarettes after the ban on them was imposed.
Dr Yogitha Rana, Commissioner of Health and Family Welfare Department said, “We have formed district level committees and enforcement squads at district level and state level to ensure COTPA is implemented effectively. A circular will be released to all districts about the action plan for COTPA implementation specially focusing on schools and colleges.”...