Khargone, a district in Indore division, nearly 70 kilometers to the south of Indore, has now become the fourth district in the state to be declared smoke-free after Dhar, Burhanpur and Khandwa which achieved this status earlier this year. With this, Indore division is slowly heading towards getting smoke-free with only four districts including Alirajpur, Barwani, Jhabua and Indore waiting to be declared smoke-free.
With the fear of coughing up Rs 200 for puffing in no-smoking zones, there has been a considerable fall in the habit of smoking in public places in these smoke-free districts where the ban has been implemented well.
In a study conducted in nine blocks of the district by an independent agency, Indore School of Social Work, it was found that Khargone district scored above 80% in all the parameters that need to be fulfilled to achieve the smoke-free status. It was found that 98.8% places had no-smoking signages, no active smoking was found at about 99.7% places, there were no promotional items of smoking at around 99.9% places, no cigarette and bidi butts were found at 92.3% places and there was no smell of smoking in 98.7% places.
The study was conducted under the supervision of ISSW principal Dr Jacob Thudipara supported by co-investigator Dr Sudha Jain and a team of five field investigators.
Madhya Pradesh Voluntary Health Association, which has been working on getting the smoking laws implemented, has said that it would now work on getting the remaining districts falling under the Indore division to become smoke free.
Programme officer Bikul Sharma added that an impact study needs to be conducted to ascertain whether there has been any fall in the sale of cigarettes and bidis but the act has at least helped in reducing the exposure to smoke to passive smokers.
"Collector Navneet Kothari declared Khargone district as smoke free and we now aim to make the Indore division completely smoke free," said Mukesh Sinha, executive director of MPVHA which is working in the state for the last 38 years.
Getting the Act in place
-Section 4 of The Cigarettes and other Tobacco Products (Prohibition of Advertisement and Regulation of Trade and Commerce, Production, Supply and Distribution) Act COTPA prohibits smoking in public places including workplaces, offices (government and private), public buildings, educational institutions, hotels, restaurants and bars, etc
-Under this Act, Government of India has notified the smoke-free rules which came into effect from October 2, 2008
-Any person found smoking in a public place is liable to pay a fine of up to Rs 200
-The offence is compoundable, that is, it can be settled on the spot by the enforcement officer or may be tried summarily in accordance with the procedure provided in the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973
-The authorised officer will be considered a public servant while acting in performance of his duty under COTPA.