New Delhi, Apr 6 (PTI) A group of parliamentarians on Wednesday urged the government to take steps to remove designated smoking areas at hotels, restaurants and airports to protect people from secondhand smoke.
Despite some progress, 30 per cent of the people in India are exposed to secondhand smoke at work and 23 per cent in public places such as restaurants and public transportation, they said.
While appreciating the government for initiating the process to amend the Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products Act-2003, the parliamentarians appealed for immediate removal of a current provision that permits smoking areas.
BJP MP from the Ahmedabad West constituency Kirit Premjibhai Solanki said, “Most of the designated smoking areas are rarely compliant as per COTPA requirements and are actually putting our public at great health risk from exposure to secondhand smoke. It’s critical to make sure we strengthen our laws.” Rajya Sabha MP Vikas Mahatme said strengthening the tobacco control law is crucial to protect the youth from tobacco consumption.
“Such measures have the potential to reduce the initiation of tobacco use among youngsters. Removal of designated smoking areas is only one factor of tobacco control. Very strict amended law is required,” he said.
BJP MP Sudhir Gupta expressed concern over the sale of tobacco products to minors.
The government needs strong public support to amend the tobacco control law, he said.
Rajya Sabha MP KTS Tulsi said, “It’s shocking to see that children are being targeted by tobacco companies. It’s critical to strengthen our existing law COTPA 2003 and have stronger penalty provisions to protect our children from the menace of tobacco for a healthy India.” MPs Hemant Shriram Patil and Neeraj Dangi said that secondhand smoking is as harmful as smoking.
Exposure to secondhand smoke causes lung function and respiratory infections. There is an urgent need to strengthen the provisions for making India smoke free and protect the future generations.
All designated smoking areas in hotels and restaurants and even airports should be removed. Effective tobacco control policies can achieve a big goal to curtail the tobacco menace, they said.
According to the recent Global Youth Tobacco Survey, nearly 20 per cent of the students aged 13 to 15 are using tobacco products in India.
India has the second largest number of tobacco users (268 million or 28.6 per cent of all adults in India) in the world. At least 1.3 million die every year from tobacco-related diseases.
Nearly 27 per cent of all cancer cases in India are attributable to tobacco usage. PTI GVS SMN SMN
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