Government collects Rs 57.92 lakh as fine for smoking in public

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About 68,959 men and 126 women have been fined for smoking in public, the data shows
Ever since the government had introduced a ban on smoking in public, in October 2008, the state tobacco control cell has collected Rs 57.92 lakh in fines, data shows.

This shows how implementation of this rule has not only forced the people to stop smoking at public places but also filled the state's exchequer in the last six years.

If reports are to be believed then the government is planning to make a 10-fold increase in the fine for smoking in public and also ban on the sale of loose cigarettes. If implemented, this will help greatly in making India tobacco free country.

In the last six years, about 68,959 men and 126 women have been fined for smoking in public, the data shows. The concerned government agencies have reportedly conducted 1,27,330 raids at public places and 2,55,011 raids in public service vehicles and fined people.

Experts, so far, are happy with the government's seriousness towards making India tobacco free but stress on the need of more stringent actions against hookah bars, clubs, pubs and restaurants.

"The implementation of the no smoking rules in Delhi shows the government's commitment towards tobacco control. However, there is an urgent need to take stringent action against those clubs, hookah bars, and restaurants etc which are flouting the law.

"It should also be emulated by other states to achieve the goal of making the country smoke free," said Bhavna Mukhopadhyay, Executive Director, Voluntary Health Association of India (VHAI).

Social activists want other states to learn from Delhi and impose similar restrictions in their cities as well to make India smoke-free. They also want the money collected from such fines to be utilised in creating awareness on harmful impact of tobacco consumption. Use of tobacco accounts for almost 40 per cent cases of cancer.

As per a TOI report, a survey on prevalence of tobacco usage in the city recorded that 41% men and 3.7% women use some kind of tobacco product. Around 30% men and 1.1% women smoke regularly, while 17% men and 3% women use chewing tobacco.

As per a recent report prepared by the Public Health Foundation of India, total economic costs attributable to tobacco use from all diseases in India in 2011 amounted to a staggering Rs 1,04,500 crore-12% more than the combined state and central government expenditure on health care in the same year.

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