Chennai, Jun 1: Ban on smoking in public places would be strictly enforced across the country from October 2, Gandhi Jayanti day, Union Health Minister Anbumani Ramadoss said.
Speaking at a function organised on the occasion of ''No Tobacco Day'' at the Cancer Institute here last evening, Dr Ramadoss said for effective implementation of the ban on smoking in public places, the Centre had issued a notification on May 30, revising the definition of ''public space'' under the cigarettes and other tobacco products (Prohibition of Advertisement and Regulation of Trade and Commerce, Production, Supply and Distribution) Act, 2003.
Under the notifiction, cigarette users could smoke either at home or at road, as public spaces would cover workplaces, shopping malls, cinema halls, hotels (with or without lodging), boarding houses, guest houses, refreshment rooms, restaurants, banquet halls, discotheques, canteens, coffee houses, pubs, bars and airport lounges.
Dr Ramadoss said smoking in public places had already been made a punishable offence under Section 4 of the Act. The Minister said under the revised rules, the liability of keeping a public place smoke-free had been vested with the person in-charge of that particular place. Asserting that the ban would be strictly implemented, the Minister said from October 2 the only place one could smoke would be on the roads or at one's residence, if the family allows it.
Observing that successful implementation of the Act purely rested with the state governments, Dr Ramadoss said, ''there is a beautiful law on paper. It is the duty of the states to implement it. But none of the States is enthusiastic.'' Expressing the hope that India would become a tobacco-free country in some years, he said when a country like Bhutan could ban selling of tobacco products, India too should be able to do it.