COIMBATORE: The police are registering more cases for smoking in public places, but people continue to smoke in hospitals, roads, parks, restaurants, railway stations and trains.
Till May 2015, 1,191 cases have been registered for smoking in public places. It was 3,643 in 2014, 2,417 in 2013 and 684 in 2012, as per the Crime Records Bureau’s data. Non-smokers, especially passive smokers, complain that they is hardly any public place free of cigarette smoke in Coimbatore. They want the authorities to take strict action to end smoking.
Indeed, breathing in the smoke from someone else’s cigarette (passive smoking or second-hand smoking) can be very unhealthy and increases the risk of cancer. It is particularly harmful for children. “We have to cover the nose to avoid the smell of cigarettes. Smoking in public places is much more than a nuisance. Passive smokers are more at risk as there are more harmful emissions from a cigarette’s burning end than what the smoker inhales,” said Ranjini Haridas, a student of the Bharathiar University.
There are around 120 million smokers in India, which is home to 12 percent of the world’s smokers. In 2009, the WHO estimated that about nine lakh people die every year in India due to smoking. The Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare notified the Prohibition of Smoking in Public Places Rules, 2008, banning from October 2, 2008, smoking in public places, including open auditoriums, stadiums, railway stations and bus stops. Anyone disobeying the rule is liable to pay a fine of `200. However, there is gross violation of this rule under the nose of officials, who are supposed to take action.
Soon after the ban, small shops in many states were directed not to provide matchboxes to the buyers to light cigarettes there itself. This helped reduce smoking in public places. However, in Coimbatore, the smoker is not troubled by such constraints. “Though people have the right to smoke, it should not harm others. More attention should be given to make people aware of its ill effects, especially of passive smoking, than to registering cases. If awareness is high, people will not smoke in public places,” said S Balamurugan, state general secretary, People’s Union for Civil Liberties.
Meanwhile, the police plan to strictly enforce rules against smoking and conduct awareness programmes, City Police Commissioner A K Vishwanathan told Express. “Penalising people alone may not give the necessary results. They must be made aware of health hazards. We are taking steps to curb smoking in public places,” he added.
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