Health dept limits its duty to create awareness on harms of tobacco

  • Arjun Sharma, Hindustan Times, Ludhiana
  • Updated: Nov 03, 2015 21:55 IST

Even as the health department has started an awareness campaign to educate people regarding ill effects of tobacco, it has not been able to rein in those offenders, who use these products openly at public places.

Though district health department is holding seminars at schools and educational institutions regarding awareness on the issue, open use and sale of such products can be openly seen at public places, including bus stand and railway station.

Moreover, there is a ban on use of tobacco products at public places, but health department officials are rarely seen deployed at the important locations in city to keep a tab on such activities.

Especially during evening time, the scenario outside railway station and bus stand changes completely, as the area is usually occupied by tobacco sellers without any fear of authorities. It is also a nuisance sometimes for those coming to the city from other places.

The Cigarette and Other Tobacco Products (Prohibition of Advertisement and Regulation of Trade and Commerce, Production, Supply and Distribution) Act (COTPA) prohibits smoking at all public places. The smoke from a smokers’ beedi, cigarette and other smoking forms called second-hand smoke (SHS) causes serious health problems in those who are exposed to it.

Section 4 of COTPA and subsequent rules notified (The Prohibition of Smoking in Public Places Rules, 2008) prohibit smoking at public places with an aim to protect people from SHS exposure.

Exposure to SHS can cause serious health problems among adults as well as children. The associated effects of SHS exposure include heart diseases, lung cancer, severe asthma attacks, sudden infant death syndrome, and many others. The common problems faced by women who are exposed to SHS, include reduced fertility, low-birth-weight babies, stillbirths and cervical cancer among others. A smoke-free environment would protect non-smokers from these hazards.

Also, in violation of the Act, many vendors in Ludhiana have not installed warning signboards against smoking in absence of any action from the health department.

The health department has recently taken away the charge of checking tobacco-related activities from district health officer (DHO) Dr Abnash Kumar and handed it over to assistant civil surgeon Dr KS Saini.

Saini said, “23 challans for smoking in public places have been issued in the past two to three days. We issue a fine maximum `200 to an offender.”

He did not have information regarding the previous challans issued for the same purpose. He appealed to the general public not to use tobacco, as it causes cancer that could even lead to death.

Ill-effects of second-hand smoke

Heart diseases

Lung cancer

Severe asthma attacks

Cervical cancer

Infant death syndrome

Reduced fertility

Low-birth-weight babies


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