Rajasthan banned sale of tobacco products, such as cigarettes and gutka, within 100 yards of health centres on Monday.
Issuing the order, the health department asked all health facilities, including private ones, to put up signage saying ‘Tobacco Free Health Care Facility’.
Medical and health department secretary Naveen Jain wrote to heads of medical colleges, chief medical and health officers, and in-charges of district, sub-divisional and satellite hospitals, and sub-centres to abide by the order.
“Healthcare facilities are public places, and some of them, such as medical colleges and district hospitals where teaching is a component, are educational institutions as defined under COTPA -- Cigarette and Other Tobacco Products (Prohibition of Advertisement and Regulation of Trade and Commerce, Production, Supply and Distribution) Act, 2003; they are bound to comply with sections 4 and 6 of the Act,” said Jain.
Section 4 prohibits smoking in public places, and section 6 regulates tobacco sale to minors and near educational institutions.
“With the order, it has become binding for all healthcare institutions to implement provisions of sections 4 and 6 of COTPA,” Jain said.
“Complying with the statuary rules, eliminating violations, and displaying signage are the responsibilities of a head/in-charge of an institution.”
Health institutions were asked to display tobacco-free signage at entry and exit gates, meeting halls, stairs, lifts and other conspicuous places.
“Rajasthan is the first state in the country to implement section 6 of COTPA, considering medical colleges and district hospitals as educational institutions,” said Dr SN Dholpuria, state nodal officer of the National Tobacco Control Programme.
Narendra Singh, state consultant on tobacco control, said Rajasthan was leading in implementation of COTPA provisions. “According to the union ministry of health and family welfare, 3.69 lakh challans under COTPA were issued in 24 states in 2016-17; Rajasthan alone issued two lakh challans,” he said.
“Including health institutions under sections 4 and 6 of COTPA is an innovative idea to. I hope sensitiveness of the government will continue for the health of each citizen of Rajasthan,” said Dr Pawan Singhal, state in-charge of Voice of Tobacco Victims campaign and a cancer surgeon with Sawai Man Singh Hospital.
“It is a welcome step and will certainly help in curtailing tobacco use,” said Dharamveer Katewa, secretary of the Indian Asthma Care Society, an NGO.