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Smoking ban at polling booths

Remember to stub out the cigarette before stepping into polling booths.

The chief electoral officer of Jharkhand issued an order on Friday, banning smoking within 200 metres of polling stations in the upcoming Lok Sabha elections.

A similar order has already been passed in Assam, Bihar and Jammu and Kashmir.

“Yes, smoking will be banned in and around all polling stations of Jharkhand. We have issued the directive today (Friday) after going through a similar order passed in Assam,” additional chief electoral officer K.K. Soan confirmed to The Telegraph through an SMS.

The instruction has been communicated to all district electoral officers (DEOs) to ensure its implementation in toto.

Violation in any form will attract punitive action.

Jharkhand, which will vote on April 10, 17 and 24, has around 24,648 polling stations spread across 18,852 venues in 14 Lok Sabha constituencies.

“The deputy commissioners, who are also the returning officers of respective districts, will have the responsibility to ensure that all polling booths are converted into no-smoking zones on voting days. Disciplinary action will be taken against government officials failing to implement the order. If any member of the public is found smoking, he or she will be punished in accordance with the anti-smoking law,” said an official.

“Since the booths will be under electronic surveillance, violations can be easily tracked down,” he warned.

According to guidelines laid down by the Election Commission (EC), all polling booths should be no-smoking zones, but most states are yet to comply with the rules.

Jammu and Kashmir and Bihar issued the no-smoking fiat in March-end. Assam issued a formal directive on Thursday after a local NGO approached the EC.

In India, the Cigarette and Other Tobacco Products, Act, 2003, came into force in 2004. Four years later, smoking was officially banned at public places after the Prohibition of Smoking in Public Places Rules, 2008, came into force.