18-per cent reduction in violations in 2017 over last year
Thiruvananthapuram, Jan 22 – Consistent efforts at tobacco control by the Kerala Police has netted nearly Rs 2.7 crore during the first 10 months of 2017, which showed an 18-percent reduction in violations as compared to the same period in 2016.
Figures of police action against violations of the Indian tobacco control law COTPA, 2003, show that the number of persons fined for offences like smoking in public places has fallen from 173,882 in 2016 to 141,007 in 2017, which is a positive development from the public health perspective.
In a relief to persons suffering from the harms of second-hand smoking, the number of people fined for smoking in public places has come down from 170,633 to 136,832.
Dr. VP Gangadharan, pioneer medical oncologist observed, “It is heartening to see how strict enforcement efforts by the Police force are helping to save lives in our state. Whatever has been achieved thus far has to be sustained with continued enforcement drives, especially targeting vulnerable areas.”
Sale of tobacco products around schools and colleges, however, showed a 40 per cent increase from 2,384 violations in 2016 to 3,340 persons fined in 2017. Sale of tobacco products to minors, on the other hand, marginally declined from 553 violations in 2017 to 535 in 2016.
Sporadic cases of tobacco advertisements that surface after Kerala became the first state in India to become tobacco advertisement free at the points of sale in 2014 are being dealt with effectively as the numbers tell us. From 31 violations in 2016, such cases have fallen to 19 in 2017.
Section 7 of COTPA mandates that tobacco products should not be sold in the country without the mandatory 85 per cent pictorial warnings. In what appears to be a case of effective implementation of the pictorial warning rules, as many as 281 challans were issued during January-October 2017.
The Finance Department, had in August 2017, created a specific head of account for depositing COTPA fines, and had directed Police and Health departments to keep details of remittance under COTPA separately. The Excise Commissioner is the controlling officer of the COTPA revenue head.
“Fine amounts collected and pooled in a separate head of account can be used to take up mass tobacco control awareness measures with their focus on preventing youth initiation”, added
Dr Gangadharan, HoD of Medical and Paediatric Oncology, Lakeshore Hospital, Kochi.
Details of fines collected by the Police are available at http://www.keralapolice.gov.in/public-information/crime-statistics/cotpa-violations. Ends
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