The process of declaring Ludhiana tobacco/smoke-free district is on the waiting list since August 2014, as the health department is not getting due co-operation from other departments.
The department rued that other departments were not helping them attain tobacco-free status due to which they were not able to prepare the compliance report. Even school and colleges are not doing enough to attain the tobacco/smoke free district status.
Meanwhile, smoking and selling tobacco in public places is still a common practice, perhaps the district will have to wait even longer to acquire this status.
The health department can send a compliance report to the Post-Graduate Institute of Medical Education and Research (PGIMER), Chandigarh, only after it ensures that at least 75% of the city is following the Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products Act (COTPA) 2003.
Ludhiana civil surgeon Dr Renu Chattwal said, “We can make Ludhiana smoke-free only if everyone pitches in. The health department alone cannot tackle all violators in a large city. All government department heads and school and college principals have been provided with a challan book, but they hardly take any initiative in issuing challans to anyone.”
“Status of tobacco-free district for a large city like Ludhiana can be attained with team effort. Thus, I urge all department heads to co-operate and use the challan book for issuing challans to people smoking in public places or violating COTPA rules, so that we can call the compliance team early,” Dr Renu said.
Once the report is sent, a team from the PGIMER would visit the city to analyse the ground reality and will declare the district tobacco free. So far, 17 districts have been declared tobacco free in Punjab.
District health officer (DHO) Dr Abnash Kumar said only a few departments like municipal corporation (MC) had taken the challan book from them, but they too hardly issued challans to any person.
Moreover, the department doesn’t have sufficient staff to carry out all the work on their own.
Kumar said, “We have only one district food and supply officer (DFSO) working here, as one is on maternity leave and another is on medical leave. One post of DFSO is also lying vacant. Department doesn’t have any steno for the past many months, thus it has become difficult for us to get all the things done.”