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  • Letter to Dr. Harsh Vardhan CLPF demand to remove all Designated Smoking Areas

    Published on October 13, 2020

    by Trishna Pegu Doley

    Guwahati  : Consumers’ Legal Protection Forum, Assam demanded to remove all Designated Smoking Areas under COTPA as places banned from smoking which exists now ( with complete non compliance) in restaurants, bars, hotels and airports of Assam. 

    Forum today submitted a letter to Union Minister of Health & Family Welfare Dr. Harsh Vardhan and raised this demand in the interest of public health. In his letter to Dr. Harsh Vardhan, Advocate Ajoy Hazarika, Secretary, Consumers’ Legal Protection Forum, Assam stated “The best way smokers can reduce their risk of heart diseases and stay healthy during COVID is to quit smoking as soon as possible – as a first hand smoker or inhaling second hand smoke. Even extremely light smoking — as little as one cigarette a day — can increase a person’s risk of heart attack and stroke and should be avoided.

    A heavy smoker with a 20-pack-a-year smoking history but decide to quit now, then he can reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD) by 39 per cent within five years. Just 20 minutes after quit smoking, heart rate drops. And as quit smoking completely the cardiovascular system begins to heal relatively quickly. Since diabetes is also a risk factor for heart disease, no one definitely wants the extra risk that smoking brings. So, in order to minimize chances of developing diabetic complications and heart diseases, diabetics should quit smoking.

    Also, keeping blood pressure, cholesterol levels and other risk factors under check is a medical prescription. . These NCDs are under pressure in COVID pandemic. Smoking is aiding and abetting these diseases. Daily cigarette smoking in India is about 6 per cent and prevalence of smoking increases with age. In total, 63 per cent of cigarette smokers smoke every day. About 16 per cent of all heart disease deaths in India are related to smoking. Studies have established a significant association of cigarette smoking with coronary heart disease and stroke.

    Cigarette smoking is associated with a two to four-fold increased risk of heart-related problems, a greater than 70 per cent excess rate of death from heart disease. Not only this, smokers have an elevated risk of sudden death.While the decision to quit smoking or not to touch cigarettes is self made, the second hand smokers have little choice while bearing the same risks. This includes small children who are passive smokers, mainly near Designated Smoking Areas.

    On 2nd October remembering Bapu, one needs to advocate for the case for 100% smoke-free public places and workplaces. The case for 100% smoke-free public places and workplaces is a must as COVID has proved.  Comprehensive smoke-free laws improve public health, particularly lung and heart health, by reducing the public’s exposure to secondhand smoke, helping smokers reduce their cigarette consumption or quit, and making smoking less socially acceptable. Comprehensive smoke-free laws improve the respiratory health of bar and restaurant workers. Comprehensive smoke-free laws are associated with decreased hospital admissions for asthma and lung infections.

    It is estimated that smoke-free laws that include workplaces, restaurants and bars reduce the risk of heart attack by 85%. India must eliminate all Designated Smoking Areas to reduce the health burden posed by smoking and secondhand smoke exposure, particularly as it is dealing with the health burden caused by the corona virus pandemic. Designated Smoking Areas, even when equipped with ventilation systems, do not protect the public and workers from the deadly effects of secondhand smoke because tobacco smoke moves easily from Designated Smoking Areas to non-smoking areas in the same venue.

    Designated Smoking Areas facilitate the spread of the new corona virus as smokers cannot social distance or wear masks and are trapped in close proximity in smoke-filled environments. Only a comprehensive smoke-free law that prohibits Designated Smoking Areas will save lives and immediately improve the public health of Indians. Prohibition of Smoking in Public Places Rules, 2008, commonly known as Smoke Free Rules 2008, came into force on 2 nd October 2008 outlining enforcement of section 4 of COTPA, stating ‘No person shall smoke in any public place’, with an exception of Designated Smoking Area in place.

    This one clause retained is a killer poison as it is affecting millions to smoke.  GSR.417 (E) Dated 30th May, 2008. – In exercise of the power conferred by Section 31 of the Cigarettes and other Tobacco Products (Prohibition of Advertisement and Regulation of Trade and Commerce, Production, Supply and Distribution) Act, 2003 (34 of 2003), the Central Government hereby makes the following Rules, in supersession to Rule 3 of the Cigarettes and other Tobacco Products (Prohibition of Advertisement and Regulation of Trade and Commerce, Production, Supply and Distribution) Rules, 2004 was the major landmark rule. With the exception of excluding Designated Smoking Area.