9 Sep :The Government on Tuesday announced that smoking would be banned in all public places from 2nd October.The ban would include hotels, restaurants and offices, Union Health Minister Anbumani Ramadoss said in New Delhi on Tuesday.If someone is caught smoking, then a fine of Rs 200 would be imposed on that person in accordance with the National Tobacco Control Act.
"Though in the beginning, the fine would be only Rs 200, we will try to amend the act in the future, after which the fine can be increased to Rs 1,000 and the employer can also be fined if somebody is found smoking within the office premises," Ramadoss said inaugurating a tobacco workshop in New Delhi on Tuesday.
Apart from this, the minister said the Government has also issued notifications to make pictorial warnings compulsory on all tobacco products from 1st December.To begin with, the pictorial warnings would be those cleared by the Group of Ministers and would cover 40 percent of the product covers, but after around one year, more pictures can be brought in, he said.
The Government is also making the fight against tobacco an integral part of the school health programme."According to a WHO study, around 14.1 percent of school going children are using some or the other form of tobacco, which is very worrisome," Ramadoss said.
The Government had notified pictorial warnings to be carried on tobacco products last month after clearance by the Group of Ministers.Govt now looking at tobacco cultivation Having taken proactive steps like banning smoking in public places and putting pictorial warnings on tobacco products, the Government is now looking at addressing the root cause of the problem — tobacco cultivation.
The Union Health Ministry in consultation with the Ministries of Labour and Commerce is trying to introduce alternate cropping patterns for people growing tobacco, Health Minister Anbumani Ramadoss said in New Delhi on Tuesday.
"A lot of countries across the world are trying this arrangement," he said.He said Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has also asked the Labour Ministry to explore alternative employment for bidi workers.
The Government is also trying to set up tobacco testing labs which will determine the amount of nicotine content in any product."One such lab already exists in Ahmedabad. We are soon planning to set up a big lab in Delhi as well as in three IITs including the one at Chennai," Ramadoss said.
Apart from this, the Government is also setting up around 100 cessation clinics in the country in a bid to help smokers who want to quit.These cessation clinics would be set up at all district hospitals also, Ramadoss said adding private hospitals would also be provided funds to set up clinics.
The Health Minister said he had written to state governments seeking their support in the matter. "States like Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand have already pledged their support," he added.