“I am smoking… what have others to do with it?” The question raised by one Akhilesh at the Qaiserbagh bus station invited a fine of Rs. 200 for violating the ban on smoking at a public place under COTPA (Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products Act) on Wednesday.
The State Tobacco Control Cell team led by SK Tripathi, state advisor to the cell and A Ranjan of Rhythm Foundation slapped fine on 21 people in the area, including nine shopkeepers for smoking at a public place and for not putting up proper sign boards (that people below 18 years should not be sold tobacco products) outside their shop.
Those shops, where signboards were not put up, were provided with the same by the Rhythm Foundation while the team also collected fines. In all Rs. 1,830 was collected from the defaulters.
Many of the smokers, who were caught violating rules, argued with the team but they were not let off without paying the fine. They were also told about the rules that prohibit smoking at a public place and also restrict sale of tobacco products to people below 18 years of age.
Some of them even pleaded they would never smoke again. “Don’t publish my photograph. I will never smoke again at a public place,” said Babloo, who was caught by the team.