Contrary to the claims of the authorities concerned of taking strong action against those smoke in public places with a ban on the sale of specific tobacco products in place in Punjab, the district lags far behind its counterparts in the Doaba region when it comes to issuing challans to violators.
Figures reveal that the health department has issued only 429 challans and collected a fine of Rs 37,750 from the violators in the last eight months under the Cigarette and other Tobacco Products Act (COTPA), 2003, in Jalandhar district.
Hoshiarpur leads in the region with a maximum of 1,735 challans and a collection of Rs 87,560 as fine.
In Kapurthala district, the health department has issued 501 challans and imposed fine to the tune of Rs 9,260.
In Shaheed Bhagat Singh Nagar district, 452 challans were issued during the same period, and Rs 25,115 was imposed as fine.
Only four challans were issued in the month of July last year in Jalandhar district. COTPA prohibits smoking at all public places. At present, a fine of up to Rs 200 can be imposed on those smoking in public.
Section 4 of COTPA and subsequent rules notified (the Prohibition of Smoking in Public Places Rules, 2008) prohibit smoking at public places to protect people from passive smoking, which can cause serious health problems, including heart diseases, lung cancer, severe asthma attacks, sudden infant death syndrome, and many others among adults and children.
Officials said earlier the district did not have any nodal officer and now an MBBS doctor has been appointed as per the government guidelines.
Lack of will on part of other government departments such as police, roadways and education, the drive has coming to a zilch and remained only on papers.
Despite a ban on the sale and consumption of tobacco products, primarily cigarettes, within a 100-yard radius of schools and educational institutions, the sale of such substances continue unabated around such places.
When contacted, district health officer (DHO) Jasbir Singh said, “I have raised the issue with the administration several times about other departments’ reluctance in issuing challans, but to no avail. Challans books have been given to them and they should take action against the violators as the government has authorised them to do so.”