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Ask the maid for a puff at home

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  • Published 20.07.07

New Delhi, July 20: Finding a place to smoke is going to get harder, and if health minister Anbumani Ramadoss has his way, smokers at home may need to seek permission from the maid.

Rules likely to be ready in about three months will seek to make workplaces across the nation tobacco-free and force restaurants to ensure that smoke-laden air does not slip into non-smoking zones, health officials said today.

Smoking is banned in public places in several states, including Bengal, now but the order is hardly implemented. Besides, private workplaces are now free to decide whether to bar smoking or not. The new rules will try to plug such loopholes and devise ways for stricter implementation.

Under the rules, smoking will be banned in all commercial establishments, offices, airports and railway stations.

“People can then smoke on the roads or at home,” Ramadoss said, then added that even a home is a “workplace” for maids, and people wishing to smoke at home may need to seek permission from the maid.

However, a senior official told The Telegraph that the health ministry was yet to figure out how to draw up rules for smoking at home.

The rules will help enforce the ban on smoking in public, Ramadoss said, after receiving an award from the World Health Organisation for his anti-tobacco initiatives.

But in a twist of irony, while Ramadoss picked up the award, another arm of the government indicated that it would dilute the mandatory pictorial warnings on tobacco products.

A group of ministers that had been looking into the issue of pictorial warnings has recommended an amendment to the law to make the image of skull and bones optional, PTI quoted information and broadcasting minister Priya Ranjan Das Munshi as saying.

Health officials said when the new rules come into force, people will be able to smoke only inside their homes, in completely open spaces and in specially-created smoking zones in restaurants or hotels.

While hotels with more than 30 rooms and restaurants with more than 30 seats are allowed to maintain smoking zones, they will need to use “negative” air pressure or special exhaust vents to ensure that air from a smoking zones does not move into a non-smoking zone.

“Right now, the only thing we use is distance to keep smokers away from non-smokers in our restaurants,” a spokesperson for a hotel said.