We fear the worst regarding the intentions of Health Minister Anbumani Ramadoss. His well-toned Ministry has issued a directive that will ban tobacco consumption in all government and private buildings from October 2. People smoking in public spaces will be fined — being hanged from the nearest lamp-post not being an option.
Our serious crib against the directive is that Mr Ramadoss is concerned only with the health of the baba log and the middle-class. A large majority of tobacco users — gutka chewers and bidi puffers, not to mention cigarette suckers — don’t ever enter public spaces that in the Ministry’s list include offices, small cafes, restaurants, schools, pubs, discos, stadiums, airports, hospitals and bus stands. India’s overwhelming village and small town population and urban poor spend their time ‘in the open’. And that’s exactly where smoking is being encouraged via negativa.
The ministry’s directive reeks of a bias that says: if you’re on the streets, who cares if you smoke and die? Mr Ramadoss must be more understanding towards the aam admi. We suggest his Ministry kickstart a ‘family planning-type’ campaign across the nation on a war footing. Our unwashed masses need nicotine patches.