Karnataka on a crusade against tobacco

City Health

Crackdown by the government and heavy fines have brought down the number of tobacco violations.

By Niket Nishant

The number of violations registered under the Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products Act (COTPA), has reduced from 1,46,832 to 2,084, data compiled by The Softcopy shows.

In 2016-17, Karnataka topped the list of violations registered and penalised under COTPA. The penalty collected for the same was Rs. 1,60,51,276. Also, a study published in the Indian Journal of Medical and Paediatric Oncology showed that 124 educational institutions in Bengaluru had tobacco outlets within 100 yards. Also, only 15 per cent of them had sign boards for the prohibition of tobacco use, thus in violation of Section 6 of the COTPA.

On the other hand, in 2018-19, the registered violations have gone down to 2,084, data from the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare show. However, the penalties collected for the same increased to Rs. 2,39,318.

In 2017, fine for smoking in public places, which is a violation of COTPA, was increased from Rs. 200 to Rs. 1000 by the Karnataka government.

The “Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products (Prohibition of Advertisement and Regulation of Trade and Commerce, Production, Supply and Distribution) Act” came into force in 2003. It was introduced with the aim of regulating the production, supply and distribution of cigarettes and other tobacco products. Protecting non-smokers from the effects of tobacco was also a major aim.

“We have come down hard upon violators of the Act, in accordance with the law, whenever it was brought to our notice,” said Mr. Vijyendra, Chief Officer of Public Health in the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP).

Two bars in Central Business District, the Shiro bar and the Bierre Club had their licenses temporarily suspended after raids conducted by BBMP officials yesterday. Mr. Vijyendra refused to comment on whether the licences had been restored.

A supervisor at the Bierre Club said, “Our restaurant is open now and the license has been restored.” The Softcopy, however, was not able to verify the restoration of license.

Karnataka is the largest producer of tobacco products in India. A report on Global Adult Tobacco Survey puts the mortality in India due to tobacco at 13.5 lakhs. It is also estimated by the survey that by 2020, tobacco will account for 13 per cent deaths in India.