Kannur district may be known to the world as the major centre of bidi manufacturing in Kerala, but not many would know that its police force is the swiftest and brightest in terms of enforcing the Indian tobacco control law, COTPA, 2003.
Recently updated figures of section-wise COTPA violations in the Kerala police website for the period January - December2013 brings out that the Kannur police have recorded the maximum number of 12,647 challans, across 14 districts of the state.
This assertive police action for the sake of public health has also brought in Rs 2,559,000 to the coffers during the period.
Some of the key provisions of COTPA include, prohibition of smoking in public places (Section 4); prohibition of all forms of direct/indirect advertisement, promotion and sponsorship of tobacco products (Section 5); prohibition of sale of tobacco products to minors and within a radius of 100 yards of educational institutions (Section 6 a & b); and mandatory depiction of specified health warnings on all tobacco products (Section 7).
The most promising action has taken place against public smoking, where the year total of number of persons fines/challaned is 12,606, at an average 1,000 plus challans and an average Rs 213,250 as fines a month.
Congratulating the district police force, Dr Satheesan Balasubramanian, Director, Malabar Cancer Centre (MCC) here said, “Recent studies conducted in Kerala have shown that implementation of COTPA is a critical factor in bringing down use of tobacco, a grave threat that disables and kills many. Police has an important and integral role to play in implementing and enforcing COTPA and it is heartening that the Kannur police has set a worthy example for all. The role of the district police is curbing smoking in public places, especially cinema theatres, is highly commendable.”
Dr Balasubramanian also requested the police to tighten vigil around educational institutions to prevent youngsters from getting into this addictive habit.
Kerala findings of the Global Adult Tobacco Survey (GATS 2009-10) of the Union Ministry of Health & Family Welfare and the World Health Organisation show that a worrisome 18.6% are initiated to the smoking habit below 15 years of age. Another 27.5% are initiated to this dangerous habit between the ages of 15 and 17.
Kannur District Police Chief Shri PN Unnirajan IPS said, “It is a matter of happiness that the district police force has been able to make a significant contribution towards protecting the public from the harmful effects of tobacco by strictly enforcing COTPA. All our officers are sensitised on the law and we will continue to step up efforts in this regard. We have also been motivating the public to keep away from this dangerous product. Along with Section 4, we will also intensify action against those displaying tobacco advertisements and those found selling tobacco products around educational institutions.”
After Kannur, Ernakulam Rural takes the second position in Kerala, with 11,560 challans during the period January-December 2013, netting Rs 2,106,000 as fines.
Image courtesy: http://www.ceo.kerala.gov.in/maps.html