| Puff penalty |
A puff at a public place can call for a penalty.
Patna Municipal Corporation (PMC) has formed anti-tobacco squads, which would move around public places such as shopping complex, cinemas and hotels to slap fines on those found consuming tobacco in any form.
Once caught, an offender will have to cough up Rs 200.
While the Control of Tobacco Products Act (Cotpa), 2003, already prohibits smoking at public places, PMC commissioner Kuldip Narayan in an order issued on Tuesday, formed anti-tobacco squads to ensure strict implementation of the provisions of the act.
“Though smoking is prohibited at public places according to Section 4 of Cotpa, people are found smoking at such places in Patna in the absence of information and strict implementation of the act. Thus, the anti-tobacco squads, comprising additional municipal commissioners and chief sanitation inspectors, would conduct drives across the city twice a week and submit corresponding status reports to the municipal commissioner in the first week of every month,” said Narayan.
According to Tuesday’s directives, the PMC commissioner has also asked to put a display board measuring 60x30cm, which would have the cautionary message “Smoking prohibited zone, smoking here is a crime. Penalty up to Rs 200 would be imposed on offenders”.
“We are co-ordinating with various departments, including home (police), education, finance, and agriculture and labour resources among others, for leading an overall fight against tobacco. It is in this regard that the role of the civic body is to ensure strict implementation of Sections 4 and 5 of Cotpa. It is being contemplated to prohibit advertising of tobacco products in direct form in the municipal limit. Talks are also being held to start a drive against sale of tobacco within the 100 metre radius of schools, colleges and hospitals with the help of police,” said Maqsood Alam, the state controller of tobacco control cell, BSHS.
Several restaurant and bar owners in Patna have welcomed the step taken by the civic body. “If the government is taking steps for implementation of the norms then we would provide all possible support. We may develop smoking zones and prohibit smoking if customers are not open to the idea of such zones. Safeguarding the health of common citizens is our responsibility as well,” said Anurag Singh, owner of Kapil’s Eleven.