Jorhat, June 30: The Jorhat District Tobacco Control Cell has claimed that its monthlong drive against all kinds of advertisements of tobacco and tobacco-related products has made the district first in the state to be about 95 per cent free of such advertisements.
The cell will carry on the drive to achieve its target of making the district completely free of advertisements that violate Section 5 of the Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products (Prohibition of Advertisement and Regulation of Trade and Commerce, Production, Supply and Distribution) Act, 2003.
The penalty for violating Section 5 has provisions for imprisonment up to two years along with or a fine up to Rs 2,000. Section 4 of the same law prohibits smoking in notified public places.
The nodal officer of the cell, Bhaktimay Bhattacharya, who is also the senior district medical and health officer, told this correspondent that the cell had on May 31 (International anti-Tobacco Day) announced that it would launch a major drive against all kinds of display advertisements of tobacco and its related products from June 1.
The move was initiated keeping in tune with the theme adopted worldwide on May 31 a fight against advertisements of tobacco and its related products. Bhattacharya said the cell staff accompanied by a police team had visited nook and corner of the district and had removed and destroyed over 1,000 posters, banners, big hoardings and about 150 glow signs.
He said the cell had visited almost all places of the district including tea garden areas and Majuli island. Bhatta-charya, however, said the team only after visiting a few remote areas of the district some of which are near the inter-state border with Nagaland can claim to have made the district 100 per cent free from advertisements of tobacco and related products.
We will always keep a strict vigil to keep Jorhat completely clean of such advertisements, Bhattacharya said. He said retail shopowners had cooperated in the drive. They had been warned that strict action would be taken against them if any violation of the anti-tobacco law was committed in the future.
Bhattacharya said with top officials of the Jorhat district judiciary extending full support to the cause and even participating in the anti-tobacco rally on May 31, a strong message had gone to society.
In April, a survey report on compliance with prohibition of smoking in public places was submitted to the district administration by Bosco Institute here. It found Jorhat favourable to be declared sm-oke-free by the government.
The survey was conducted in February-March this year by the institute under the direction of the International Union against Tuberculosis and Lung Disease (Southeast Asia office) in New Delhi. The global NGO is working in partnership with WHO against tobacco consumption and lung diseases.
The report mentioned that in 97.8 per cent of the public places surveyed, no one was found smoking. Signs related to smoking like smell, ashes, ashtrays and matches were absent in over 95 per cent of the places and 88.2 per cent of the places did not have cigarette butts or bidi stubs.