The Central government has authorized states and union territories to take actions against anybody found chewing smokeless tobacco, supari and spitting in public places.
Against the backdrop of India’s continuous fight against COVID-19 pandemic, the union Health Ministry has asked all state governments and UTs to take strong actions whoever is found smoking cigarette, chewing tobacco, paan masala, supari and spitting in public places, under Indian Panel Code (IPC).
The Health Ministry in its letter also referred to an appeal made by country’s apex medical research institute, Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) to stop chewing smokeless tobacco and spitting in public places.
As per the ICMR appeal chewing smokeless tobacco products, paan masala and areca nut (supari) increases the production of saliva followed by a very strong urge to spit.
Spitting in public places could enhance the spread of the COVID-19.
“In view of the increasing danger of COVID-19 pandemic, ICMR has appealed the general public to refrain from consuming the smokeless tobacco products and spitting in public places during the COVID epidemic,” the Health Ministry said.
The state governments and UTs have necessary authority under the Epidemic Diseases Act, 1897, the Disaster Management Act, 2005 and also under various provisions of Indian Penal Code 1860 and Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPc) to deal with COVID-19.
“In this background, it is requested that necessary preventive measures may be taken under the appropriate law to prohibit the use and spitting of chewing smokeless tobacco products in public,” the letter issued to the chief secretaries of states and UTs has said.