Smoking ban up in smoke in Kolkata

The Union health ministry's ban on smoking in public areas seems to have gone up in smoke in the state, with a recent survey revealing that 45 per cent of the respondents in Kolkata claim the compliance to the law is poor. While seven per cent say compliance is excellent, 22 per cent say it is good.

A survey conducted by the Cancer Foundation of India and Healis Sekhsaria Institute of Public Health on 1,026 respondents from four metros showed nine out of every 10 Indians favoured the regulations prohibiting smoking at workplaces and public spaces, which was implemented from October 2, 2008.

Despite the fact that 93 per cent of the total 252 respondents in Kolkata strongly wanted stringent regulatory measures, West Bengal is still lagging behind implementing some of the major provisions of the smoking ban.

"A total of 63 per cent of the Indian citizens surveyed say that restaurants and bars have done an excellent job in implementing restrictions. An additional 17 per cent said these places have done a good job keeping their spaces smoke-free. However, less than one-third of residents in Kolkata rate compliance as good while 45 per cent call it poor," said Sutapa Biswas, executive director, Cancer Foundation of India.

According to the surveyors, unlike other states where state tobacco cells have been structured and are working to implement the smoking ban, West Bengal is yet to come up with its own structured tobacco cell despite such a provision being compulsory for every state under the law.

A tobacco cell is entrusted with the responsibility of implementing the ban.

"Under Section 6A, selling tobacco to minors is an offence. But we hardly see it being followed. Again, there are clear-cut rules of making no-smoking signboards with certain measurements but most of the places do not comply with it. The city public places do not have a designated person who would be in-charge of maintaining the law," said Biswas.

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