The world recently celebrated No Tobacco Day on 31 May. In this article we bring to you the details of public smoking ban in India and also how to register a complaint in case the smoke is getting to you.
Smoking in India
India has a long history of smoking. Atharveda first mentioned that cannabis was smoked in India around 2000 BC. Fumigation and fire offerings for medicinal purposes as prescribed by Ayurveda, has been in practice for around 3000 years. While dhumpana (drinking smoke), has been in practice for quite some time, tobacco was introduced to India only around 1600. Before modern times pipes with stems of different length and chillums were used as a tool to inhale smoke. Nowadays, cigarette smoking has replaced dhumpana. Beedi, a hand rolled herbal cigarette containing betel nut, cloves and a low proportion of tobacco is the only reminiscent of historical dhumpana.
Tobacco Legislations in India
Cigarettes (Regulation of Production, Supply and Distribution) Act, 1975 mandating specific statutory health warnings on cigarette packs was the first Indian legislation regarding tobacco. A comprehensive tobacco control bill The Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products (Prohibition of Advertisement and Regulation of Trade and Commerce, Production, Supply and Distribution) Act, 2003 (COTPA) came into force on 1 May 2004. This brought all forms of tobacco products (both smoking and smokeless) under legislative control. Prohibition of sale to and by minors and in an area of 100 yards of any educational institute was brought into force. Rules for implementation of its provisions are notified by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare from time to time. Chandigarh in 2007 became the first smoke free city in India.
Ban on public smoking
In 2008 the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare notified the Prohibition of Smoking in Public Places Rules, 2008 by which smoking in public places was prohibited form 2 October 2008, the day of Gandhi Jayanti. As per Section 3(l) of the COTPA, ‘public place’ means any place to which the public have access, but does not include any open space. Smoking is prohibited in open spaces visited by the public — like open auditoriums, stadiums, railway stations and bus stops. However, public places do not include parking spaces, roads, open market places, parks and private homes. A person caught smoking in public must pay a fine of Rs 200.
How to register a complaint?
The rules oblige the owner, proprietor, manager, supervisor or in-charge of the affairs of a public place to notify and display the names of the persons to whom a complaint of violation may be made. If the owner, proprietor, manager, supervisor or the authorized officer of a public place fails to act on report of such violation, the same then shall be liable to pay fine equivalent to the number of individual offences. In 2009, the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare started a helpline for reporting smoking law violations. People can dial the National Toll Free Help line No. 1800-110-456 and register their complaints. Police constables are authorized to collect penalty only if they are accompanied by officers above the rank of inspector of police. State food and drug administration officers, district health society, representatives of panchayat raj institutions, chief medical officers at district- level and civil surgeons are among those who have additionally been authorized to take action within a defined jurisdiction. People should insist for a challan if they are fined for the violation.
COTPA allows smoking in hotels with 30 rooms or more, restaurants or pubs with seating capacity for 30 or more persons, and at airports. For this a smoking zone has to be set up which
- should be physically separated and surrounded by full-height walls;
- should have a system that lets the smoke go directly outside;
- should have an entrance with automatically closing doors;
- should not be used for other purposes like serving food, beverage or other services.