Taking stringent steps against tobacco consumption, police in Assam have started fining people for smoking in public places, selling tobacco products to minors and advertising nicotine-based items, in violation of the Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products Act (COTPA), 2003.
The drive against tobacco consumption by the Assam Police started on June 10. As a part of the drive, shop owners were fined for selling cigarette packets with inadequate display of warnings and setting up stalls for selling tobacco products within 100 yards of schools.
Enforcing the Act would go a long way in reducing the prevalence of tobacco use among people, Dr Ramandeep Kaur, DCP East Guwahati, said.
“We hope this campaign will increase public awareness and help in making our public places and educational institutes tobacco-free,” the DCP said.
The police action was taken under the direction of the Guwahati Commissioner of Police Hiren Chandra Nath, Kaur said.
It was being done with the objective of keeping the youth away from tobacco addiction and preventing non-smokers from the bad effects of inhaling passive smoke, Kaur said.
The police officials who are involved in the enforcement of COTPA participated in a training conducted by Sambandh Health Foundation (SHF) during which they had taken a pledge to support the cause of tobacco control in the state.
Dr Ashok Das, a cancer surgeon at B Barooah Cancer Institute (BBCI) in Guwahati and patron of Voice of Tobacco Victims said, “The enforcement of COPTA by the police in Guwahati is commendable.”
Seven facts about tobacco consumption in Assam as per SHF sources:
2. Over 13.3 lakh are cigarette users
3. There are 18.8 lakh bidi users
4. And, 91 lakh smokeless tobacco users
5. Over Rs 540 crore is spent annually for treatment of tobacco-related diseases in Assam for persons aged between 35 years and 69 years.
6. The prevalence of tobacco has gone up from 39.3 per cent in 2010 to 48.2 per cent in 2017.
7. As per the Global Adult Tobacco Survey 2017 in Assam, 32.9 per cent of people above 15 years, currently smoke or use smokeless tobacco.
With inputs from agencies