The Jharkhand State Cricket Association (JSCA) has landed in a soup for violating the Cigarette and Other Tobacco Products Act (COTPA) 2003 by displaying an ad of ‘Pan Bahar’ during the recent Test match played between India and Australia at the JSCA International Stadium in Ranchi from March 16 to 20.
A senior official of Ranchi district anti-tobacco cell on Sunday said the department had taken a serious view of the violation of COTPA Act during the five-day Test match, and a notice would soon be slapped on JSCA for advertising pan masala prominently in the stadium.
Under Section 5 of COTPA 2003, direct, indirect and surrogate advertising of tobacco products is considered a violation of the Act. A violator of the Act could be slapped a fine of Rs 1000 to Rs 5,000 and imprisonment of one year to five years.
The Jharkhand health department has taken this leaf out of its Punjab counterpart’s book. The Punjab cricket body took immediate action against the state cricket association for advertising pan masala during the Mohali Test match played between India and England in November 2016. The Punjab anti-tobacco cell issued a notice to the host cricket association as well as Kuber advertising company for violating the Act. The organisers had to remove the pan masala advertisement from the stadium next day itself to avoid action.
Official of the Ranchi district anti-tobacco cell said though pan masala products come under the Food Safety Standard Act, Section 5 of COTPA bans its advertisement as it indirectly contains tobacco products.
“Since such advertisement (pan masala) attracts the youth as also new initiators, it must be banned. Its advertisement also amounts to violation of COTPA under Section 5,” said Deepak Mishra, executive director, SEEDS, the technical support partner of the Jharkhand health department in implementation of the National Tobacco Control Programme in five districts of the state.
The health department official said action against JSCA was on the cards, as just one day before the start of the Test match (March 16-20), the Ranchi district anti-tobacco cell, under deputy commissioner Manoj Kumar, had held a high-level review meeting with officials concerned, including those of the Ranchi Municipal Corporation, and resolved to launch a massive drive against violators of COTPA. Even a ‘challan’ was issued to competent authorities for initiating action against COTPA violators in the district.
Despite repeated attempts, Ranchi deputy commissioner (DC) Manoj Kumar could not be contacted for comments in this regard. A district health department officer said only DC could make an official comment.