NGO plans massive publicity for smoking ban

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Guwahati, Oct 1 (UNI) The ban on smoking at public places from tomorrow has garnered support in Assam, with an NGO Voluntary Health Association of Assam (VHAA) taking the lead in publicising and implementing the ban effectively.

''The public must be more aware of this blanket ban and the provisions for fines for violators of the ban to be successful and we are working for it,'' Ruchira Neog, VHAA executive secretary, said here.

A sweeping ban on smoking at all public places, including hotels, pubs and restaurants, would come into effect from tomorrow, with the new provisions widening the definition of enforcement officers empowered with slapping fines of up to Rs 200 against the violators.

''Earlier, only sub-inspector rank police officers or state food or drug administration officers acted as enforcement officers. But now the definition has been widened to include teachers, heads of institutions, station masters, all Gazetted officers and various others,'' Ms Neog said.

She said in Guwahati the VHAA would engage in widespread publicity, forming coalition of individuals concerned and organisations, report and encourage reporting of violation, publish and advertise useful information and such allied measures.

Pointing out that the demand for ban on public smoking was almost universal, Ms Neog quoted a survey conducted in Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata and Chennai, which clearly indicated that the public favoured the ban.

''In Assam also, we have held discussions with the people and nearly cent per cent supported the ban,'' Ms Neog added.

The survey found that nine out of ten citizens surveyed, favoured the regulations and were aware of the risks of second hand smoke as a health hazard.

UNI SG PL RSA AS1823

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