Even as the Sangrur district administration wants to declare the district tobacco and smoke-free by the end of September, the chances of enforcing this are bleak.
Deputy commissioner Kumar Rahul's orders to all public departments to penalise violators of the Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products Act seems to have fallen on deaf ears. Gazetted officials have not issued any fines; only health department officials, including the anti-tobacco unit and senior medical officers, fined 548 people this year.
As per the act those smoking in public places and selling tobacco products to minors are to be fined. Heads of non-governmental organisations and principals of government schools were also directed to implement the act, but in this, their attitude has been lax.
Challan (fine) books are issued to senior medical officers and gazetted officers. "Heads of only five departments out of about 70 approached the health department and got their challan books issued," district health officer Dr Surinder Singla said. "They have been sent a reminder to collect their fine books."
The administration had ordered installation of hoardings in front of government offices and schools to discourage people from smoking or consuming tobacco. However, no such board was put up, not even outside the mini-secretariat.
There is no check on sale and purchase of tobacco products: kiosks near bus stands, railway station, educational institutions, markets and religious places blatantly flout the orders.
"I will look into the matter and instruct officials to collect their challan books," the deputy commissioner said. "It is possible that officers are not aware of the practice as it was started sometime back."