The Assam Police from Tuesday started fining violators under the Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products Act, 2003 (COTPA) for violating various sections including smoking in public places, direct or indirect advertising, sale to/by minors, sale within 100 yards of schools and pictorial warnings on all tobacco product packaging (currently 85% of pack area).
Dr Ramandeep Kaur, DCP, East Guwahati, said, “Police also serves the citizens, especially youth, by protecting their health. Enforcing COTPA will go a long way in reducing prevalence of tobacco usage. The police force in Guwahati was given refresher training on COTPA by Sambandh Health Foundation (SHF). Under the direction of the Commissioner of Police, Hiren Chandra Nath, we have started action under COTPA with the objective of keeping youth away from tobacco addiction and also preventing non-smokers from bad effects of inhaling passive smoke. We hope this campaign will increase public awareness and help in making our public places and educational institutes tobacco-free.”
She further added the police officials, who are involved in the enforcement of COTPA, had participated in the training and taken a pledge to support the cause of tobacco control in Assam.
Assam has more than 1 crore tobacco users of which 13.3 lakh are cigarette users, 18.8 lakh are bidi users and 91 lakh are smokeless tobacco users. More than 540 crores are spent on treatment of tobacco-related diseases in Assam in annually for persons aged 35-69. In the last 7 years, the prevalence of tobacco has gone up from 39.3% in 2010 to 48.2% in 2017, stated a press communique.
Dr Ashok Das, cancer surgeon at BBCI and Voice of Tobacco Victims (VoTV) patron said, “I see so many youngsters coming in my OPD with tobacco-related cancers. Youth are being initiated into tobacco usage – both chewing and smoking- which leads to high incidence of oral cancer and other illnesses. More than 140 children in Assam initiate tobacco use everyday. This enforcement by police in Guwahati is commendable.”
As per the Global Adult Tobacco Survey, 2017, Assam, 8.2% of men, 62.9% of women and 32.9% of all adults [15+ age] currently either smoke and or use smokeless tobacco. As per data, 25.3% of men, 0.8% of women and 13.3% of all adult currently smoke tobacco, while 50.5% of men, 32.5% of women and 41.7% of all adults currently use smokeless tobacco, it added.