The Thiruvananthapuram City Police are fully geared up for time-bound action to make the capital a tobacco free district that fulfils the provisions of the Indian tobacco control law COTPA, 2003. This follows a multi-stakeholder meeting chaired by the District Collector that decided to make Thiruvananthapuram a model COTPA compliant district.
As part of this, Circle Inspectors and Sub Inspectors attended a half-day workshop in which they were explained the various sections of COTPA and the steps for achieving model compliance status.
Deputy Commissioner Smt S Ajeetha Begum talked about the purpose of the training programme and asked all officers to take strict action against COTPA violations. “We are embarking on a prestigious project that will have positive implications on the health and well-being of our people,” she said, even while calling for strengthening reporting of COTPA violations.
Faculty member Retd.DySP Adv K Mohana Kumar made an audio-visual presentation and explained the various sections of COTPA and the punitive measures prescribed for violation of each. Section 4 of COTPA prohibits smoking in all public places; acts of violation will invite a fine up to Rs 200. Public places have also to put up mandatory no smoking signages in the prescribed size and format at the entrance and conspicuous places inside. Educational institutions, hospitals, restaurants, cinema halls and the like are included in the list of public places, he told.
Section 5 prohibits all forms of tobacco advertisements; Section 6 prohibits sale of tobacco products to and by minors – sale of tobacco products around 100 yards (91.4 metres) radially of an educational institution is banned. Section 7 requires statutory health warnings in all tobacco products’ packages.
Joint Commissioner, Food Safety Shri K Anil Kumar explained that products such as gutkha and pan masala containing tobacco or nicotine have been banned in Kerala as per the 2011 regulation of the Food Safety and Standards Act of India, 2006. As per this, tobacco and nicotine shall not be used as an ingredient in any food product and that the product should not contain any substance that is injurious health. He also sought stronger coordination between Food Safety and other implementing departments such as Police and Health for effective enforcement of the ban in Kerala.
District Health Officer (Rural) Shri PK Raju presented field-level experiences on implementing COTPA. Highlighting a circular issued by the local self government department in 2011, he pointed out that setting up of ‘no smoking’ boards are a precondition for issue of Factory Licences and Dangerous & Offensive Trade Licences under the Kerala Panchayat/Municipality Acts. Secretaries of Local Government Institutions have been directed to display boards prohibiting smoking at public places and premises of offices under their control, Shri Raju added.
In his opening remarks, Shri S Jayaraj, State Coordinator, Tobacco Free Kerala spoke about smoking in public places which violates Articles 21 and 47 of the Indian Constitution. Article 21 is about protection of life and personal liberty and Article 47 calls upon the State to improve public health.
Tobacco use victim Shri Sukumaran narrated the physical and financial hardships he had to face following tobacco induced oral cancer. The workshop was organised by Trivandrum City Police together with Tobacco Free Kerala – a coalition of like-minded organisations formed for tobacco control in Kerala. More than 30 officers participated in the programme.