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Maharashtra earns an estimated 6 lakhs from fines for smoking in public places

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Less than three months of the ban on smoking in public places, the FDA claims to have already collected a whopping fine of Rs. 5, 79,925 from those found breaking the rule in Maharashtra. This collection is the amount that has been taken till November 2008 and is among the biggest collected from a state in the country.

The ban on smoking in public places was already in place since 2004. However, due to lack of awareness, required manpower and infrastructure, it did not provide the expected results. The Central government had reinforced the ban on smoking in public, which was imposed under the Prohibition of Smoking in Public Places Rules, 2008. The ban came into force from October 2, mainly to protect individuals from the hazards of second-hand smoke and to help smokers kick the habit. With the help of 250 FDA officials and support of police personnel, fines were successfully collected.

Mr. Mohan Patankar, Jt. Commissioner FDA, says, “This ban was long introduced in 2004 and we did our best to fine the offenders even then. The collections from 2004-2008 (July) amounted to Rs 2, 55,000 as against Rs. 5,79,925 in just four months (Aug- Nov 08).This was largely due to lack of infrastructure, necessary manpower, vehicles etc. Now, due to increased awareness and support from police personnel, we have noticed significant reduction in such instances. Hotels and restaurants have also strictly been following the ban. Easy availability of challans and receipts has also facilitated the process. It can be downloaded from the net for HR administrators and other competent authorities.”

The public was also more sensitized about the ban and there was a massive public support for the ban which played a significant role in the implementation of the ban.

Dr. PC Gupta, Director, Healis Sekhsaria Institute for Public Research said, “We applaud the FDA on providing us with this encouraging sign. The fines are crucial in the attitudinal transformation among general public and create a higher level of awareness. The general public already understands the significance of the ban and supports its cause. In our survey 92% respondents all over India and 96% in Mumbai strongly favoured regulations for making all workplaces and public places in India smoke-free. We are confident that effective implementation of policies such as smoke-free public places and pictorial warnings on tobacco products will play a concrete role in improving public health. Perhaps the government should take a cue from the success of this ban and implement the much awaited law on pictorial warnings; it is high time to do so in the interest of the public.”

The implementation of a smoke-free environment is the primary and most effective way to ensure that a non-smoker’s right to good health and right to breathe air devoid of smoke should be given preference over a smoker’s right to smoke and cause harm to those around him/her.

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Written by sreelakshmi

7 January, 2009 at 10:56 pm