Even though the sale and consumption of tobacco is banned within 100-metre radius of educational institutions, very few adhere to it. Many reputed colleges in the Capital city have small shops in their periphery selling tobacco and related products.
According to Section 6 (B) of the Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products (Prohibition on Advertising and Regulating Trade, Commerce, Production, Supply and Distribution) Act (COTPA), 2003, sale of tobacco products is prohibited within a radius of 100 yards of any educational institution so that students do not have immediate access to the products.
But in reality, vendors continue to sell tobacco and related products near colleges. Repeated attempts by college authorities to get rid of such stalls in the vicinity have gone vain.
As per the guidelines, even the faculty members are restricted from using tobacco products in the tobacco-free zone.
Yet, most college-going students can be seen purchasing cigarettes and gutka from the shops located in their college vicinity and teachers using tobacco products on the college premises. Besides, though college authorities are expected to display board on the premises on anti-tobacco norms, it is not followed.
College authorities said they are helpless in adhering to the anti-tobacco norms.
“Our sole responsibility lies in displaying the anti-tobacco rules on the premises and also ensuring the ban in 100-metre radius of the college. But we are in no position to vacate the shopkeepers and at the same time cannot stop students from smoking or eating gutka outside the college,” said Principal of a reputed college of Bhubaneswar.
To bring the situation under control, the Department of Higher Education on Wednesday directed principals of all colleges in the State to report violation of COTPA in their institutions to the respective police stations so that immediate action can be taken.
Besides, they have been asked to organise regular meetings with the students to spread awareness among them about the ill effects of exposure to tobacco.
“Survey reports reveal that prevalence of tobacco use is more among college students. So we have asked principals of both Government and private colleges to ensure strict adherence to the COTPA,” said Secretary of the Department Gagan Dhal.
■ Most college-going students can be seen purchasing cigarettes and gutka from the small shops located in their college vicinity
■ Repeated attempts by college authorities to get rid of paan-beedi stalls in vicinity have gone vain