With Hoshiarpur figuring on the list of 11 districts declared smoke-free by the state government, district health authorities have readied themselves to crack the whip on violators. Civil surgeon Dr Surjit Singh said that a mechanism had been set up to implement the ban on smoking in public places.
The government has declared Muktsar, Sangrur, Kapurthala, SAS Nagar, Mansa, Amritsar, Rupnagar, Gurdaspur, Fatehgarh Sahib,and Shaheed Bhagat Singh Nagar besides Hoshiarpur as tobacco smoke-free districts on the basis of compliance study reports by Chandigarh's Post-Graduate Institute of Medical Education and Research (PGIMER).
"We have sensitised other government departments also to follow government guidelines to implement the Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products Act (COTPA) and to keep the district tobacco smoke-free. We would hold regular review meetings to check the implementation of rules," said the civil surgeon.
"The owner/proprietor of a public place would have to notify and display the name of the person to whom a complaint regarding violation can be made. If he fails to act on the report of violation, he would be liable to pay fine equivalent to the number of individual offences," he informed, adding that violation of the Act was punishable with fine up to Rs 200.
The civil surgeon admitted that in the past, ban orders were not implemented in good earnest, but promised that from now onwards, no leniency would be shown towards offenders. He said that over the last two years, the department had challaned 2,323 persons and collected a fine of Rs 50,880.