New Delhi : Delhi Police have stepped up the anti-smoking campaign and in last twenty days about 713 challans had been issued to violators by 14 police-stations in three districts – North (263 challans), South-East (250 challans) and East (200 challans).
Delhi Police are issuing challans directly for the first time under the Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products Act, 2003 (COTPA) which prohibits smoking in public places, no direct or indirect advertising, no sale to/by minors, no sale within 100 yards of schools and mandates pictorial warnings on all tobacco product packaging (currently 85% of pack area). Earlier Delhi Police were using the ‘kalandra’ system wherein a slip is issued to the offender who must then go to the magistrate to pay the fine.
Dr Heena Shaikh, Project Manager, Sambandh Health Foundation, an organization working on tobacco control, said “The kalandra system was proving to be cumbersome as people issued kalandras often did not give their ids and did not go to pay the fine. Also the back-end paper-work for kalandra is quite time-consuming. Under COTPA an on-the-spot fine can be levied for violations hence making challans is a more effective process.”
There had been coordination issues in challaning by Delhi since the challan books have to be provided by the Health Department and the Tobacco Control Cell claimed a shortage of challan books. The matter has been stream-lined after Health Minister Shri Satyendra Jain chaired a review meeting on tobacco control activities on 21st February to give a boost to the anti-tobacco campaign. Challan books are now being supplied to the Police in all districts of Delhi and the campaign is showing vigor as more police stations get active.
DCP (North) Jatin Narwal said “Delhi Police also serves the citizens by protecting their health. Enforcing COTPA will go a long way in reducing prevalence of tobacco usage. The Police force is being trained to take action under COTPA and the campaign will be continued”
Dr Heena Shaikh said that many retailers had appreciated the campaign – “a textile trader in Lajpat Nagar had thanked the Police as he said that every month there fires in the market by smokers who throw lit cigarette/bidi stubs carelessly and the cloth articles catch fire”.
Mrs Mohini Daljeet Singh, CEO of Max India Foundation, who are partnering this campaign said “these steps by Delhi Police and the Delhi Health Minister augurs well for the health of citizens of Delhi as COTPA protects non-smokers and also reduces tobacco consumption. The prevalence of tobacco users in Delhi is 24.3% with an estimated 10,000 people dying every year due to tobacco related diseases. 81 children in Delhi initiate tobacco every day and most of them become addicts.”