2 Oct :Smokers beware! Hotels, restaurants, pubs, offices and even the international airport would be out of bounds to light up the rolled tobacco from Thursday with the ban on smoking in public places coming into effect.The ban, the implementation of which is effective from Mahatma Gandhi’s birth anniversary, will cover even hookah bars and pubs as well as private offices and public places like bus stops.
Union Health Ministry issued a notification for the ban under the Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products (Prohibition of Advertisement and Regulation of Trade and Commerce, Production, Supply and Distribution), Act 2003.
The notification, which was brought out on 30th May, was challenged in many high courts by the ITC as well the Hotel Association of India following which the Health Ministry approached the Supreme Court submitting before it to hear all the cases at one time.
Hearing the petition, the apex court on Tuesday refused to stay the Central government’s notification on the ban on smoking in public places from 2nd October.A Bench, headed by Justice B N Agarwal, while refusing to stay the notification dated 30th May, 2008, also transferred four petitions challenging the ban.
The petitioners had alleged that the notification made no distinction between private space and public space and it may create problems.Though Health Minister Anbumani Ramadoss had written letters to Chief Secretaries, Chief Ministers and Governors of all the states, some states like Bihar and Maharashtra have expressed their inability to implement the ban.
However, governments of Jharkhand, Delhi and Chattisgarh have already extended the ban in their states.The Centre, meanwhile, is also not "so sure" about the implementing agencies of the ban. While anybody can complain to authorities concerned if a person is found smoking, there is no hard and fast rule as to where the Rs 200 fine would be deposited.
Ramadoss, however, said the states have been given two options — one is to use the money for tobacco control programme and the other is to deposit it in the state treasury in line with the fine amounts for traffic violations.