Health
Public Smoking: Can COTPA change the lifestyle of the people in West Bengal?
Trans World Features | @twfindia | 30 Sep 2019
Public Smoking: Can COTPA change the lifestyle of the people in West Bengal?
Kolkata: War against tobacco epidemic began more than a decade ago but could only achieve limited success with certain parts of India lagging behind in enforcing laws to combat it. According to Tobacco Free West Bengal, a non-governmental initiative which is making an effort to deliver high impact, evidence-based tobacco-control interventions, the law under which smoking in public places is prohibited must be enforced in the state.

COTPA’s (Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products Act) 2003, Section 4 says smoking in public places is prohibited. Health care facilities and government offices are also public places as defined under COTPA and are to comply with the provisions of Section 4 of COTPA.

 

Tobacco Free West Bengal believe, and are working towards sensitising children towards the health hazards of tobacco.

 

Indranil Dasgupta of Tobacco Free West Bengal said the “proper implementation of COTPA Act 2003 is mandatory but unfortunately there are very few convictions."

 

She said: "Children must be protected from all forms of tobacco as they represent our future. However, substantial steps in this regard is being taken—or rather one should say— need to be taken immediately in the best interests of the society and change the lifestyle of the people to a more healthy one.”

 

As per the COPTA Section 4, prohibition in public places are being implemented with great strictness in many states. Challans are being issued to offenders with regularity.

 

In the period April 2016 to March 2017, Kerala collected Rs. 27266600 through challans, Karnataka Rs. 16051276; Gujarat Rs. 3997025; Bihar Rs. 279435; Odisha Rs. 279435 and Goa Rs. 479300. West Bengal, however, does not as yet figure in this challan status.

 

The Cigarette and Other Tobacco Products (Prohibition of advertisement and Regulation of Trade and Commerce, Production, Supply and Distribution) Act, 2003 (COTPA) was enacted in May 2003, essentially to discourage the consumption of cigarettes and other tobacco products and to protect youth and the general population from the harmful effects of tobacco used.

 

As per COTPA’s (Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products Act) 2003, Section 4,smoking in public places is prohibited. Health care facilities and government offices are also public places as defined under COTPA and are to comply with the provisions of Section 4 of COTPA.

 

 

According to the latest statistics of GATS - 2 (Global Adult Tobacco Survey) 2016-17, 56.1% people are exposed to second-hand smoking at home, 57.5% people are exposed to second-hand smoking at workplace, 14.7 % at public transportation, 5.3% at government buildings, 5.3% at healthcare facilities and 4 % at restaurants.

 

The statistics highlight how the citizens are at risk. Hence, COTPA implementation is essential to save citizens from the harmful effects of tobacco. Some health hazards occurring due to second hand smoking are aggravation of COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease), asthma, lung cancer and complications in pregnancy in women.

 

Dr Gautam Mukhopadhyay, Director, Bengal Oncology Centre says, “Tobacco is harmful in all forms whether it is cigarettes,bidis or the smokeless varieties. The Government of India must declare a 'Tobacco Policy' outlining the intent of tobacco cessation in all forms which is essential for a healthy society.”

 

As per latest data, a third of West Bengal’s population is addicted to tobacco. Of this over 20% are cigarette and beedi smokers and a quarter of tobacco users in Bengal (24.4%) comprise of passive smokers. It costs the state a massive annual health-expenditure of INR 3440 crores. In Kolkata the popular public places where such violations have been spotted are: RDB Boulevard, Sector V; Infinity Thinktank Building, Sector V; Pantaloons, Sector V; Surrounding areas of various schools and colleges.
 

Commenting on the non-aggressive implementation of the COPTA guideline, Dr Kunal Sarkar, eminent cardiologist of Kolkata states, “I am quite outraged that there isn't a blanket ban on tobacco usage irrespective of the mode of consumption. Till that happens we have to be relentless insensitising theyouth of the ruinous effects of the habit."

 

"We need to de-mystify the macho image and sense of 'standing' out in society that is associated with smoking.  It's our appeal to the police and citizens to enforce the COPTA (Cigarettes and other Tobacco Products Act 2003). Let us all embark on a campaign of zero tobacco tolerance."

 

Efforts are on to implement  prohibition as stated in COPTA, Section 4. Tobacco Free West Bengal is a non-governmental initiative which is making an effort to deliver high impact, evidence-based tobacco-control interventions.

 

This campaign is focused on achieving and implementing sustainable developments by the Govt. of West Bengal that will lead to substantial reductions in tobacco use and make the environment ‘smoke-free’.

 

Tobacco Free West Bengal believe, and are working towards sensitising children towards the health hazards of tobacco.Indranil Dasgupta of Tobacco Free West Bengal feels that the “proper implementation of COTPA Act 2003 is mandatory but unfortunately there are very few convictions. Children must be protected from all forms of tobacco as they represent our future. However, substantial steps in this regard is being taken—or rather one should say— need to be taken immediately in the best interests of the society and change the lifestyle of the people to a more healthy one.”