The West Bengal government has banned smoking in public places and sale of tobacco products to minors in Darjeeling district failing of which would draw a fine of Rs 200.
Stating that the ban was in force in the Hills as per Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products Act (COTPA) (Prohibition of Advertisement and Regulation of Trade and Commerce, Production, Supply and Distribution) in 2003, District Magistrate Anurag Srivastava said that the administration has started its implementation from the Independence Day.
"It (ban on smoking in public places) was in place but the implementation was not done properly. Now on the directive from the Health department we started implementing the ban in the district from yesterday," he said.
Elaborating more on the ban, the DM said the sale of tobacco products to minors would be a punishable offence while sale of tobacco products would not be allowed within 100 metres of an educational institution.
"Not only the locals, this (ban) goes for tourists also. Anybody found smoking in public places will be fined Rs 200. And nobody will be allowed to sell tobacco-related products like cigarettes to minors below 18 years," Srivastava said, adding that manufactures of tobacco products should adhere to the norm related to warnings on packages.
As per the COTPA, failing of adhering to the norm related to warnings on packages, the manufacturer of tobacco products on first conviction can face upto 2 years of imprisonment or can be fined Rs 5,000.
In fact, the DM said, emphasis would also be on the advocacy campaign for creating awareness among the masses regarding the issue.
The health department has also released funds for the advocacy campaign, Srivastava said further stressing on the need for raising the awareness level of common people on the bad effects of smoking and using tobacco products.
"We need to tell them about the ill effects of smoking and consuming tobacco products. And for the purpose we are training our staff as well as policemen to influence others in the society," he said.
The COTPA is an Act enacted in 2003 to prohibit advertisement and regulation of tobacco business in India. It puts restriction on tobacco products including cigarettes, gutka, panmasala, cigar, cheroot, beedi, Snuff and chewing tobacco.