M A I N   N E W S

Ramadoss does it again: Staff smoke, employers pay

New Delhi, March 20
Individuals smoking in their offices will now invite penalty for their institutions as part of the Union Health Ministry’s crackdown on smoking in public places.

“If one person is caught smoking, the fine would be Rs 5,000 for the institution, if two persons are caught it would be Rs 10,000 while if three persons are caught it would be Rs 15,000,” health minister Anbumani Ramadoss told reporters in New Delhi on Thursday.

As part of the plan, the government is also planning to increase the fine on an individual smoking in public places from Rs 200 to Rs 1,000, he said.

Expressing concern over the increase in the number of smokers in the country, he said the ministry has recommended the formulation of a comprehensive Tobacco Control Policy and its effective implementation needs to be initiated.

“There is a need to increase awareness among teachers, students and community leaders,” he said at the release of the Global Youth Tobacco Survey and Global School Personnel Survey for 2006.

Observing that the high prevalence of tobacco use among students and school personnel is alarming, the survey said indication of increasing use among girls in some regions is a matter of concern.

Between 2003 and 2006, the period under consideration in the survey reveals that smoking pattern did not change nationally among students in the age group of 13-15 years but significantly increased in the southern and northeastern region.

Currently use of tobacco products by students in the age group of 13-15 years other than cigarette has not decreased at the national level but has increased in the central region, the study said.

No significant change in current tobacco consumption by boys and girls was seen in two of the six regions in 2003 and in sale of tobacco to minors at the national level during 2003-06, it said.

It further goes on to say that overall prevalence of teaching in schools about the dangers of smoking has not changed but increased significantly in the eastern and northeastern region.

Exposure of students in the age group of 13-15 years to cigarette advertisements on billboards has not decreased significantly at the national level but has decreased in the northeastern region, in particular.

Percentage of free distribution of cigarette samples to the students of the age group of 13-15 years has also not decreased significantly at the national level including North but has increased in the eastern and southern region. — PTI



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