Smoking will now cost you more. The Delhi government is planning to increase the penalty for smoking in public, from the existing R 200 to at least R 500 or even R 1,000, for first time offenders.
“Currently, the fine for smoking in public places is R 200, which is not prohibitive enough. People do not feel the pinch, a cigarette box costs more than that. But, if the fine is high, they will at least think before smoking on the streets,” said Dr Mrinalini Darswal, Delhi’s food commissioner with additional charge of tobacco control cell.
The fine is regulated under the central act – Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products Act (COPTA), which states that state governments have the authority to decide the fine amount under the state rules.
For repeat offenders, the fine right now is R 500. The government is planning to double the fine amount for every subsequent offence.
However, the problem is in identifying the repeat offenders. “When it is a cigarette shop or a restaurant, we come to know that they have been fined before. But for individuals there is no way. We can ask for their identity cards, but most often people say that they are not carrying any. They pay the fine and leave,” said Dr Darswal.
The government is still looking for an effective mechanism to catch repeat offenders.
The government has also increased its challan targets. “Last year, some 2,500 challans were issued for smoking in public earning the government around 5 lakhs in revenue. This year the target has been increased to 15,000.
The tobacco control cell will take help from the police department to catch the smokers.