Punjab Government on 31 August 2013 declared Hoshiarpur and Kapurthala as Smoke-Free districts in the state. The declaration was made based on the study conducted by PGIMER, which revealed the absence of active smoking in more than 96.4 percent of public places in Kapurthala and 91.3 percent in Hoshiarpur districts. The PGIMER was entrusted with the task of conducting a compliance survey and opinion poll to verify the compliance of Cigarettes & Other Tobacco Products Act, 2003.
Punjab Government also announced that the Ferozepur, Fazilka, Faridkot, Tarn Taran and Jalandhar districts will be declared Smoke-Free in the next phase.
Before these two districts, Ajitgarh, Mansa, Amritsar, Roopnagar, Shaheed Bhagat Singh Nagar, Fatehgarh Sahib, Gurdaspur, Sangrur, Bathinda and Sri Muktsar Sahib districts were declared as smoke-free districts of Punjab.
Cigarettes and other Tobacco Products Act (COTPA) 2003
The Union Government armed itself with a comprehensive Act named the Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products Act (COTPA, 2003) to control tobacco industry, which is responsible for the deaths of thousands annually in India and worldwide. The Act is applicable to all products containing tobacco in any form and it extends to whole of India. The act is comprehensive however there are a few loopholes that have been discussed below.
Prohibition on smoking in public places - Section 4 of Tobacco Control Act, 2003
• Smoking in all Public Places is Prohibited - The term public place is vaguely defined and refers to any place, where public have access, whether as of right or not, and includes auditorium, hospital buildings, railway waiting room, amusement centers, restaurants, public offices, court buildings, educational institutions, libraries, public conveyances and like which are visited by general public but does not include any open space.
• Creation of Smoking Areas - In restaurants, hotels and airports smoking areas are to be physically segregated in such a manner that the air from these areas does not circulate to the non- smoking areas. Another very loosely implemented provision.
• Display of Prominent Non Smoking Signs e.g. Smoking here is strictly prohibited is mandatory at all public places.
Who: Government of Punjab
Where: Hoshiarpur and Kapurthala
When: 31 August 2013