Kolkata, which earned the dubious distinction of a city with the highest cigarette consumption in India in 2014, is now planning to shed the tag and become the country’s first smoke free metro-city.
“The law already exists. We just want to implement it and ban smoking in public places in Kolkata,” said Sovan Chatterjee mayor of Kolkata.
“We have already banned smoking inside the Kolkata Municipal Corporation headquarters in central Kolkata. Several bars and restaurants in the city have also implemented it,” he added. Interestingly, Chatterjee, who is now 53, himself is a chain smoker and had unsuccessfully tried to quit the habit more than 100 times.
The city’s civic body is planning to take the help of the Indian Medical Association (IMA) and the Indian Dental Association. Help would also be sought from the state administration and the Kolkata police.
“On Saturday, a resolution was passed at the state council meeting of IMA that doctors will lodge FIR with the local police if they find any shops selling cigarettes within 100 metres of schools and hospitals or any juvenile buying cigarette from a shop. The FIR will be lodged against the shopkeeper,” said Santanu Sen, secretary of IMA .
Smoking in public places was prohibited nationwide from October 2, 2008 under the Prohibition of Smoking in Public Places Rules, 2008 and Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products (Prohibition of Advertisement, Regulation of Trade and Commerce, Production, Supply and Distribution) Act, 2003 (COTPA, 2003).
As per Section 21 of the COTPA, 2003, whoever contravenes the provisions of Section 4 will be punished with a fine which may extend to ₹200.
An offence under this section is compoundable and will be tried in accordance with the procedure provided for summary trials under the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973.
A national survey done in 2014 on tobacco usage habits in the country found that around 49% of the sample surveyed in Kolkata was smokers, compared to 43% nationally. It covered Mumbai, Kolkata, Ahmedabad, Lucknow and Hyderabad, with a sample size of 1,111 respondents.