Come January, and clean Brihanmumbai Electric Supply and Transport (BEST) buses and smoke-free depots may soon become a reality.
For, as a part of its 'Smokefree Mumbai' campaign, Tata Memorial Hospital has tied up with the undertaking, also known as city's travel lifeline.
The initiative will ensure that stickers reminding travelers about law banning smoking in public places in English as well as Marathi are on display in the buses from mid-January. Also mentioned on the stickers will be a toll-free number wherein people can report against those flouting the norm.
Usha Jadhav, manager, 'Smokefree Mumbai', said, "The toll-free number will be manned by the BEST control room. Moreover, BEST traffic officers stationed at different locations will penalise people caught smoking on BEST premises."
"The implementation of law will help in providing a healthy atmosphere during travel," said Dr Surendra Shastri, head of preventive oncology department, Tata Memorial Hospital.
The primary aim of the campaign is to dissuade BEST employees from smoking or chewing tobacco. "60% of the drivers as well as conductors are tobacco users," said a BEST employee.
To drive home the point, BEST’s welfare department in collaboration with Tata Memorial Hospital is also conducting health awareness sessions underscoring the ill effects of tobacco for its employees. About 200 BEST employees attended the first session at the Dadar workshop on December 15. GB Khavre, 51, deputy chief manager of BEST Dadar workshop, who gave up his 30-year habit of chewing tobacco after attending the session, said, "At the session, the doctors highlighted the ill effects of chewing tobacco. I was alarmed as I realised that I was working towards harming my own system. Thankfully, I have managed to get over the addiction.'
Dr Shastri stated that taxi owners' associations and Mumbai Regional Transport Office (RTO) too are being covered as a part of the campaign. Putting up of 'No Smoking' stickers was made mandatory for all transport vehicles in August. "We will bring in new stickers and posters that are colourful, hence noticeable. They will also mention the fine for violation of law," said Jadhav.
The new 'No Smoking' signage will also be erected at bus stops, bus depots and all canteens within BEST premises. BEST undertaking has 4,665 buses, 25 depots and 75 bus stations with about 45 lakh passengers travelling by bus every day.