An overview of the Tobacco Control Measures in India: problems and solutions

Smoking 2018

(Unsplash, 2018)

This article was exclusively written for the The European Sting by Janvi Lalchandani, a 3rd year medical student (7th Semester) from HBT Medical College and Dr. RN Cooper Hospital, Juhu, Mumbai from India. She is affiliated to the International Federation of Medical Students Associations (IFMSA). However, the opinions expressed in this piece belong strictly to the writer and do not necessarily reflect IFMSA’s view on the topic, nor The European Sting’s one.


Tobacco free public spaces means that ‘ALL’ indoor work places and public places should be 100% smoke free, with no designated smoking areas indoors. Legislations in India
According to WHO, India accounts for 12% of the worlds smokers, with approximately 120 million smokers nationwide.

This number is alarming and the Indian government has taken measures to see an end to this trend. In 1975, the COPTA mandated statutory health warnings on cigarette packs in an attempt to spread public awareness about the ill effects of smoking.

In 2004, there was a ban on selling tobacco products within 100 yards of an educational institution. Finally on October 2, 2008, Smoking in public places was prohibited under the Prohibition of Smoking in Public Places Rules. Anybody violating this law is liable to a fine of Rs. 200 Scenario in India. At present, all tobacco products come with a warning about health hazards.

No direct or indirect advertisements are permitted. Smoking is banned in public places including Hospitals, Amusement Centre, Court Buildings, Schools, Libraries, Public Conveyance, Railway Stations, Bus Stops, Shopping Malls, Cinema Halls, etc.

However, there are designated smoking zones in hotels, restaurants, pubs, airport lounges, etc. There are no restrictions on smoking in parking spaces, open market places, roads and parks.

The penalty for violating the law is Rs. 200. In an ideal world, a smoke free environment would be easily achievable. However, these laws are difficult to enforce to a great extent. Most of times, loose cigarettes are sold, which make it difficult to regulate the tobacco industry. The general public thinks it easier to pay Rs. 200 than to give up on cigarettes.

Myths about smoking also prevent a healthier environment.

“Oh, I don’t really smoke, my friends do!”

People believe that passive smoke is harmless, when infact it is as dangerous as active smoking, endangering passive smokers to the same diseases as active smokers.

“Don’t worry, I only smoke filter cigarettes

People believe that filter cigarettes(menthol cigarettes), which are apparently nicotine free, are harmless. However, this is untrue. Not only are they equally harmful, some may even argue that they are worse because it does not cause the same level of irritation, causing people to smoke more.

“No point quitting now, the damage is already done”

It’s never too late to quit smoking! Within 20 years of quitting, your heart and lungs will almost be the same as a non-smoker’s so the sooner you can quit, the better!

“Smoking makes you look cool”

A major reason for this belief is found in Bollywood movies, where villians are usually shown smoking. Now however, all such scenes also show a warning about the ill effects of cigarettes in an attempt to discourage any future smokers.

Conclusion

To end my article, I'd like to say that India is on the right path to a smoke free environment. With a little strict implementation and health education, we will soon be able to achieve our goals in accordance with the SDG by 2030.

About the author

Janvi Lalchandani is a 3rd year medical student (7th Semester) from HBT Medical College and Dr. RN Cooper Hospital, Juhu, Mumbai from India. She is an aspiring dermatologist, with specific interest in cosmetology. She is a member of MSAI and hopes to be able to go for an IFMSA exchange during the upcoming year. She would love to visit Europe to be able to see how the ‘Tobacco free public space’ is being implemented so that she can help apply more of that in her own country while leaving some of their ideas with us.

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