New Delhi, Sep 25 (UNI) The Delhi Government today said it planned to strictly enforce a ban on smoking in public places in a bid to make the city smoke free by 2009.
Addressing a press conference here, Delhi Health Minister Yoganand Shastri said the state government would also launch an educational campaign to educate adults about the ill-effects of tobacco and smoking and the dangers of second hand smoke (SHS) to the citizens in the Capital.
Further, the Government was also working on a proposal to make counselling and tobacco cessation services available at selected hospitals in Delhi for those who want to quit smoking.
Mr Shastri said in a bid to strictly enforce the legislations for banning smoking in public places under the Delhi Prohibition of Smoking and Non-Smokers Health Protection Act 1996 and the Indian Tobacco Control Act 2003, the state Government had nine nodal officers across the city to monitor the implementation of the act in Government offices and departments.
''Each of the nodal officers has the authority to fine those violating the anti-smoking laws,''Mr Shastri said.
It is notable that at present any person contravening the provisions of ban in public places, is punishable with a fine upto rs 200.
Also, for sale within 100 m of educational institutions, the punishment is a fine which may extend to Rs 500 and in case of second offence the punishment is imprisonment that cvan extend upto three months.
In this context, the Minister said a total of 11735 people had been fined for violation of the law between April 2005 and March 2006, which was a decrease from 18325 people fined between April 2004 to March 2005.
The Minister said the state government was mooting an increase in the quantum of fine for violation of the legislation.
''We are considering a hike in the fine to be levied on the violators to Rs 500, from Rs 200 at present,''Mr Shastri said.
A proposal for hiking the fine amount will be put before the state Cabinet, which will forward it to the Union Cabinet for approval. Also, the state government was mooting an introduction of a toll free number where the non-smokers could complain against the harmful effects of smoking by others.
On this occasion, the Minister informed that he had just returned from an international conference 'Towards a Smoke Free Society' held in Edinburgh on September 10 and 11 where he highlighted the efforts of the Delhi Government in making the city smoke free by 2009 before the 2010 Commonwealth Games.
During the international conference, which Mr Shastri attended on an invitation of the Scotland Government and the European Commission, he met Scotland's Minister for Public Health, Shona Rabison and held discussions on areas of mutual interest and cooperation.