Supreme Court refuses to stay implementation of smoke-free rules

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New Delhi, Sept.29 : The Supreme Court of India on Monday refused to stay the implementation of the 2008 rules banning smoking in public places across India.

It went further gone ahead and stated that no other court in the country would pass any order against these rules.

The apex court ruling now allows the Government to expand the prohibition on smoking in public places and workplaces to protect individuals from the hazards of Second Hand Tobacco Smoke.

Coinciding with the birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi, the Government plans to introduce the no-smoking policy in all indoor establishments.

The notified law provides for prohibition on smoking in public places including hotels, restaurants, coffee houses, pubs, airport lounges, and other places visited by the general public like workplaces, shopping malls, cinema halls, educational institutions and libraries, hospitals, auditoriums, railway stations and so on.

While the civil society working for tobacco control in India has welcomed the apex court's decision in the interest of public health,the tobacco industry has started its delaying and deceiving tactics.

It claims that implementing a prohibition on smoking in public places would infringe on the rights of the people.

According to Dr. K. Srinath Reddy, President, Public Health Foundation of India, "The verdict of the Supreme Court, upholding the ban on smoking in public places (including workplaces) is a welcome vindication of the right of the non-smoker to protect personal health and upholds the legitimate role of the state in enacting laws to protect public health."

"The implementation of these laws from October 2, 2008 will unmistakably signal that the health of the people must take precedence over the interests of the tobacco industry and the misplaced concerns of restaurant owners," he added.

According to Dr. P C Gupta, Director, Healis Sekhsaria Institute of Public Health, "The smoke-free laws have been easy to implement and help produce public health benefits, wherever they have been implemented. The tobacco industry has tried to block these laws using exactly the same arguments and strategies everywhere and India is no exception. Like in every other country, In India also, they have failed and public health has won".

ANI

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