Police officials in the ranks of Assistant Sub-Inspectors (ASIs) will be empowered to conduct raids and seizures as the State Government finally showed signs of urgency in taking action, eight months after imposing a total ban on gutkha and pan masala containing tobacco.
The Health and Family Welfare department has moved the Home department for delegating powers to police personnel down to ASI level for enforcement of the ban under the Food Safety and Standards (FSS) Act. Health Secretary P K Mohapatra has urged the Home department to issue instructions to the SPs in the districts and the DCPs of the Twin City to launch the crackdown at the level of all police stations.
Police should not only be proactive in enforcing the ban, but also take prompt action against smoking in public places, which is an offence under Cigarette and Other Tobacco Product Act (COTPA).
Advertisements, promotion and sponsorship of tobacco products should also be prohibited.
Enforcement of the ban should be an integral part of the monthly crime review meetings held in the districts and the cities, Mohapatra has emphasised.
While Odisha ranks top among the States in tobacco consumption, it has an alarmingly high young population that has taken to the habit. As high as 14.2 per cent of the population in the age group of 13-15 uses tobacco. The age of initiation into the habit is as early as 13 years, according to GATS study 2009-10.
The menace being acute among the young, the School and Mass Education department has been urged to initiate action to make the schools tobacco-free. While preventing sale of tobacco products in the vicinity of the schools, authorities should immediately report presence of any shop or vendor selling such products within 100 yards to the authorities concerned.
Directions should be issued to the Circle Inspectors of Schools and district inspectors for proper implementation of the guidelines. Steps will also be taken for inclusion of harmful effects of tobacco in the school curriculum.
The Health Secretary has called upon the Transport department to take steps to prevent illicit transport and import of banned tobacco items. While all public transport vehicles will be declared smoke/tobacco free, they cannot carry advertisements of such products.
The State Government had banned production and sale of gutkha and pan masala containing tobacco and nicotine along with other smokeless tobacco products from January 3 this year.
But the menace persists due to absence of enforcement and products are now openly sold in the market.
MOCKERY OF LAW
■ As high as 14.2 per cent of the population in the age group of 13-15 uses tobacco
■ The State Government had banned production and sale of gutkha and pan masala from January 3 this year
■ The menace persists due to absence of enforcement and products are now openly sold in the market