Call for a separate head of account for tobacco control fines


Thiruvananthapuram, Mar 4: As fines collected for violations of Indian tobacco control law COTPA, 2003 exceed Rs four crore in 2016; strong voices have emerged in favour of creating a dedicated head of account to deposit the amounts in the Government Treasury to strengthen measures for dealing with the worrisome health menace.

Currently, COTPA fine amounts are deposited in the miscellaneous account of the State Government Treasury.

 

Advocates of public health are also vocal in asking for allocating a portion of the fine amounts for strengthening tobacco control in the wake of increasing and worrying incidence of tobacco use among youngsters in the state.

 

COTPA fines for the period January-December 2016, according to the official website of Kerala Police, amounted to Rs 4.38 crores, representing a 31 per cent increase over the corresponding period in 2015, during which the fine for violation of tobacco control laws was Rs 3.33 crore.

 

The Excise and Health Departments are also very active in safeguarding public health through strict enforcement of the COTPA, 2003.

 

Dr Sunil Mani, Professor and Director, Centre for Development Studies here, said, “A separate head of account will create administrative ease for enforcement officials to deposit COTPA fine amounts and enable the government to keep track of the amounts collected under this head. Such a system will also facilitate mechanisms wherein these funds can be used to reduce the economic burden of tobacco-related diseases and enhance public health in the state.”

 

Dr AS Pradeep Kumar, former Addl Director of Health Services and former Tobacco Control Nodal Officer who has been making a sustained campaign in this regard, said, “Recent accounts of tobacco use initiation at the young age of 15 are startling and disturbing. Utilising a major portion of the fine amounts collected will be beneficial in strengthening various tobacco control efforts in the state.”

Along with law implementation and enforcement, widespread and targeted mass media efforts and cessation clinics are needed to rein in the tobacco epidemic in Kerala, he noted. 

Details of persons fined, and fine amounts collected by the Kerala Police under COTPA from October 2012 to December 2016, are available at?

http://www.keralapolice.gov.in/public-information/crime-statistics/cotpa-violations.

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