[English report card] [हिंदी रिपोर्ट कार्ड] A Report Card on Implementation of Tobacco Control Laws in Lucknow prepared by nine young activists was released on World No Tobacco Day, 31 May 2011, organized at SIPS Super Speciality Hospital, Lucknow. These youngsters –Sachidanand, Jatin, Sarvesh, Dileep, Nadeem, Anand, Ritesh, Rahul and Astha - had participated in a week long training programme on Rights and Responsibilities under the guidance of WHO International Awardee Professor (Dr) Rama Kant, Magsaysay Awardee Dr Sandeep Pandey, Shobha Shukla and Bobby Ramakant. This programme included sessions on Right to Information Act and Tobacco Control Laws in India.
The youth participants selected few salient features of The Cigarette and Other Tobacco Products Act, 2003, to conduct a reality check on their level of implementation in Lucknow. The salient features of The Cigarette and Other Tobacco Products Act, 2003, that were monitored and evaluated by the team included:
1) Sale of tobacco within 100 yards of any educational institutions is prohibited
2) Ban on smoking in public places (came into effect since 2 October 2008)
3) Ban on sale of tobacco to or by minors (below 18 years)
4) Pictorial health warnings on all tobacco products
5) Sale of ‘Gutkha’ in Plastic (Supreme Court order)
The enthusiastic young activists have the following recommendations to offer in order to make their city tobacco free:
1. Since majority of tobacco addiction begins before the age of 18 years, it is imperative to strictly enforce the ban on sale of tobacco to or by minors. The children who are sadly selling tobacco should be in schools in this age of “Sarva Shiksha Abhiyaan” and “Right To Education (RTE) Act”.
2. The ban on sale of tobacco within 100 yards of any educational institution should be strictly enforced – this will limit access to tobacco for minors and delay (or reduce the chances of) the onset of tobacco addiction
3. The sale of International brands of cigarettes in Lucknow such as Gudang Garam from Indonesia, Marlboro and other brands – raises a serious question – if they are legally imported in India then they must abide by Indian tobacco control laws (such as print pictorial warnings as per Indian law) and if they are not legally imported then not only India is losing on health of its citizens but also on revenues. We appeal to the government authorities to seize such tobacco and take appropriate action against those responsible.
4. All forms of tobacco should not be sold in plastic for very reasons for which the Supreme Court banned sale of Gutkha in plastic sachet (environmental). This ban should include non-tobacco forms of mouth freshners and paan masala too.
5. Ban on smoking in public places should be strictly enforced – with proper signage (very few private sector offices have appropriate signage). As per a news item published in May 2011, only Rs 6000 has been collected as fine for violating ban on smoking in public places in Lucknow (only 30 people have been fined in 2011). This is a very loosely implemented ban and raises serious questions on the efforts of government and authorities to “declare Lucknow smokefree” by end of this year. The concerned authorities like the Tobacco Control Cell must enforce laws properly – and – protect our health and well-being.
The Rights and Responsibilities Training Camp was organized jointly by Citizens for Healthy Lucknow campaign, Indian Society Against Smoking, Asha Parivar, Abhinav Bharat Foundation (ABF) and CNS.