With a view to ensuring the implementation of the Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products Act (COTPA) OF 2003, under which the government proposes to make Amritsar smoke-free by August 15, a team of experts from Post Graduate Institute of Medical Education and Research, Chandigarh, will check different public places in the holy city.
Starting Monday, the raids led by two teams, comprising two members each, would check at least 250 public places to see if these have been completely rid of the menace of smoking and consumption of tobacco or tobacco-based products in public places.
Giving details, civil surgeon Dr HS Ghai said the visit of the team would be spread over five days.
"During these days, the teams will raid at least 250 public places to ensure that these are completely free from smoking," he said, adding that the focus would be on ensuring that none of the vendors of tobacco products displayed any advertisement that lured youngsters under the age of 18 to smoke cigarettes or consume tobacco or tobacco products in public.
He said law would also prohibit tobacco vendors from providing so much as a matchstick or a cigarette lighter to consumers under the age of 18.
"As per the law, smoking would be completely banned in hotels having less than 30 rooms, while those having more rooms would be required to earmark a separate smoking zone," Dr Ghai said.
Saying that Mohali and Mansa had already been declared smoke-free, Dr Ghai said Amritsar and Rupnagar were likely to be declared smoke free by August 15.
He maintained that as per section 4 of COTPA, boards had been installed at various public places against smoking in public, while challans had also been issued.
Interestingly, the drive was earlier hyped as 'tobacco-free', which had led to confusion among the public as to how it was different from the COTPA-2003.
"The drive is being conducted to implement the COTPA-2003 properly as earlier it could not be implemented in letter and spirit," said the civil surgeon.
He added that the teams would submit their report to the government, which would then declare the city smoke-free.