New Delhi, Feb 21: Facing hurdles in conducting enforcement raids under the Tobacco Control Act due to alleged lack of cooperation by the police, the Delhi government has decided to ask the city police chief to issue necessary instructions to his subordinates in this regard.
The Health Department of the Delhi government, which runs the Tobacco Control Programme, has a major role in creating awareness about the ill effects of tobacco consumption and sensitizing people. For enforcement, however, it is dependent on other departments, especially the police without whose help raids are not not possible.
"For the last three weeks, we are trying to conduct enforcement raids in the south district and despite prior advance communications to the concerned Deputy Commissioner of Police (DCP) and SHO of Safdarjung Enclave Police Station, we could not conduct the drive on February 11 and 19 as police stations did not provide the necessary manpower on both days," Dr S K Arora, Additional Director (Health), said.
He said during the enforcement raids, individuals, organisations, vendors, restaurants etc are challaned for different violations under the Tobacco Control Act.
Police department, Municipal Corporations, Department of Industries, Food Safety and Excise/VAT should also be made to conduct raids for tobacco control as self initiative which is very much lacking and is the major cause for poor enforcement drives, said Arora.
"We have decided to write to Delhi police Commissioner to issue strict instructions to the police stations in this regard. We will also write to the departments concerned seeking cooperation for conducting such raids," he said.
The city government, which is keen on making Delhi tobacco free, has also launched a series of initiatives including observing dry day for tobacco on the last day of every month and tobacco-free Delhi initiative in health, education, transport and police departments.
The Delhi government has already banned sale, purchase and storage of chewable tobacco products but has not been able to implement it because of court cases filed by some tobacco manufacturers which are still pending.
According to data issued by the National Cancer Registry Programme of the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), there are 1,300 cancer deaths daily and close to 5 lakh every year.
Tobacco use alone accounts for about 40 per cent of all cancers, 90 per cent of oral cancers and 30 per cent of tuberculosis in India. About 275 million Indians, 35 per cent of adult population, and 14.1 per cent of children aged 13-15 years are tobacco users, mainly smokeless tobacco, according to a paper by Paul E Goss of Harvard Medical School, Boston, and others.