Ban Smoking in Public Places in India

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The adverse health effects of tobacco are well documented.  However, it remains a huge public health issue across the world and India is no exception where one fifth of all deaths are related to tobacco use (102 deaths per day). India is the third largest producer and consumer of tobacco in the world. An estimated 240 million people use tobacco in India, of those 120 million are smokers. The age of initiation has reduced to 13 years, but exposure to passive smoke starts as early as infancy.07

On October 2, 2008, India’s government passed a law to ban smoking in public places. It listed public places where smoking would not be permitted and a violation would be penalized with a 200 rupee fine (~$4.00).  This will encourage tobacco users to reduce or quit smoking and also protect others from passive smoking. The tobacco industries view this ban as a violation of individual rights, but what about the rights of those who do not wish to be exposed to smoke?

Organizations like Action Council Against Tobacco-India, WHO, the Tobacco Institute of India, and grassroot organizations have been at the forefront to address this huge health risk.  Also, The Cancer Patients Aid Association in India has worked with Bollywood stars and the media to promote awareness against smoking.

Despite the evidence for the benefits of this policy, many believe its failure is inevitable.  Unfortunately, this could be the reality if not properly enforced. Past efforts to ban public urination and spitting, and even basic traffic laws, have been poorly regulated and the same is potentially true for this smoking ban unless extensive measures are taken to ensure enforcement of this new policy.  This will be an enormous challenge, but it is a crucial step in the right direction to protect the population from the hazards of smoking.

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13 Responses to “Ban Smoking in Public Places in India”

  1. mdklinkhammer Says:

    It strikes me also as a law that is unlikely to be enforced very often. From what I know of India, I don’t know how it would even be possible for this type of legislation to be practically enforced, seems that the policies that are in place in many places in the US where privately owned enterprises are mandated to become smoke free enforcible with fines toward management are much more enforceable.

  2. defth Says:

    Indian Government is constantly trying to give a good image of itself to the world by actions that are supposed to have a “good” impact on his poor and desperate population.
    Having been in India many times, I realistically cannot see how this measure could take effect, or even have any impact.
    How do you want people to respect this decision as politician, police and anybody working in public business is openly smoking. India has to be pragmatic and realistic, there are many much more important action to be taken before the effects of smoking. The most emerging economy of the world does not take care of its people, visit India (not the Taj) you will understand!

  3. nkathy206 Says:

    In addition to putting pressure on businesses via fines to ban smoking, tobacco manufacturers, who have moved to markets such as India and China, need to be defended against, as they are greatly opposed to further curtailing of the sale of their merchandise and their profits. Educational efforts via Bollywood stars and the media are excellent, and may counterbalance advertising which promotes the purchase and use of tobacco products. Perhaps further fines are necessary for advertising in areas such as schools.

    Lessons can definitely be learned from Ireland, the first European country to ban smoking in public places, and which many predicted would fail in this endeavor due to the role of smoking in the country’s culture; they successfully banned smoking with limited financial impact to pubs and restaurants and overall reduction in smoking and improvement in public health.

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  9. mansourfaisal Says:

    Using penalties as a way of enforcing law has been proven to work in many countries where laws are usually not enforced. I think this is a great intial step in fighting tobaccoo in india. Coupled with awareness campaigns and probably increased taxation on tobacco could help this issue even further.

  10. solboricua18 Says:

    I agree completely on this issue. Unfortunately the problem arises from the HUGE influence that tobacco companies have within government with their lobbyist. Initially we had physicians go on live TV and recommend X or Y cigarette to their patients and would state that there were no health concerns. After decades of blunt lies it is now evident and scientifically proven that smoking causes many health concerns some of which are still being discovered. Unfortunately the public believes that smoking only affects those who actually smoke, another clear incorrect fact. Second hand smoke affects those around significantly specially those who do not smoke. If we were to go to a public park or in a street corridor and wear a full bio-hazard suit and have a green smoke coming out of a container with a huge sign that says…with constant exposure this gas will give you cancer….well no one would ever walk in that street or go to that park. This is exactly what happens when someone smokes within the vicinity of other non smokers. It would not take more than 20 min for that individual to be mandated to not expose anyone to that green gas and be reprimanded but this is not the case with a smoker. Their rights to smoke clearly surpass the rights of non-smokers to be exposed to this cancer producing agent.

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