The city of Delhi has launched an anti-smoking campaign under the Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products Act (COTPA).
More than 700 people have been issued challans for smoking in public places by the Delhi Police since the drive was launched in mid-February. The Delhi Police is issuing challans directly for the first time under the COTPA, which prohibits smoking in public places, the sale of tobacco products to minors, and the sale of tobacco products within 100 yards of educational institutions, says a PTI report.
Earlier, the Delhi Police was using the 'kalandra' system, wherein a slip used to be issued to the offender, who would then go to a magistrate to pay the fine.
Heena Shaikh of Sambandh Health Foundation, which has been working on tobacco control, said,
The 'kalandra' system was proving to be less effective as people often did not give their IDs and did not turn up to pay the fine. Under the COTPA, on-the-spot fine can be levied for violations, which is making it more effective.
Omvir Singh, Deputy Commissioner of Police (East), said,
We have so far caught over 200 violators and challaned them. Every day, five to seven persons are being caught and challaned by policemen in areas under East Delhi.
Singh said that the police have also closed down five hookah bars in East Delhi. The north district police has issued over 263 challans under the COTPA so far, said Jatin Narwal, DCP (North). The southeast district police has also issued 250 challans under the campaign.
Enforcing the COTPA will go a long way in reducing the prevalence of tobacco usage. The police force is being trained to take action under the COTPA, and the campaign will continue, Narwal said. Mohini Daljeet Singh, CEO of Max India Foundation, which is partnering in the campaign, said,
Prevalence of tobacco users in Delhi is 24.3 percent, with an estimated 10,000 people dying every year due to tobacco-related diseases.
A few months ago, the Silicon Valley of India, Bengaluru, too had announced the same measures. According to Section 4 of the Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products Act 2003 (COTPA), a person caught smoking in a bus, at railway stations, cinema halls, hospitals, libraries, government hospitals, and other public areas in Bengaluru will be fined Rs 200 by police personnel. It was observed that many were violating the rule despite its strict implementation.