The Consumers’ Legal Protection Forum, Assam has demanded removal of all designated smoking areas under COTPA as places banned from smoking which exists now in restaurants, bars, hotels and airports of Assam.

The Forum on Tuesday submitted a letter to Union health minister Dr. Harsh Vardhan and raised this demand in the interest of public health.

In his letter to Dr. Vardhan, advocate Ajoy Hazarika, secretary, Consumers’ Legal Protection Forum, Assam stated: “The best way smokers can reduce their risk of heart diseases and stay healthy during COVID is to quit smoking as soon as possible – as a first hand smoker or inhaling second hand smoke.”

“Even extremely light smoking — as little as one cigarette a day — can increase a person’s risk of heart attack and stroke and should be avoided.

A heavy smoker with a 20-pack-a-year smoking history if decides to quit the habit now, then he can reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD) by 39 per cent within five years. Just 20 minutes after quit smoking, heart rate drops, Hazarikia wrote in his letter.

And if a person quits smoking completely, the cardiovascular system begins to heal relatively quickly, the letter added.

Since diabetes is also a risk factor for heart disease, no one definitely wants the extra risk that smoking brings.

“So, in order to minimize chances of developing diabetic complications and heart diseases, diabetics should quit smoking,” Hazarika said in the letter.

“Also, keeping blood pressure, cholesterol levels and other risk factors under check is a medical prescription. These NCDs are under pressure in COVID pandemic. Smoking is aiding and abetting these diseases,” he added.

Daily cigarette smoking in India is about 6% and prevalence of smoking increases with age.

In total, 63% of cigarette smokers smoke every day.

About 16% of all heart disease deaths in India are related to smoking.

Studies have established a significant association of cigarette smoking with coronary heart disease and stroke.

“Cigarette smoking is associated with a two to four-fold increased risk of heart-related problems, a greater than 70% excess rate of death from heart disease. Not only this, smokers have an elevated risk of sudden death,” said Hazarika.

While the decision to quit smoking or not to touch cigarettes is self made, the second hand smokers have little choice while bearing the same risks.

This includes small children who are passive smokers, mainly near designated smoking areas.

Prohibition of Smoking in Public Places Rules, 2008, commonly known as Smoke Free Rules 2008, came into force on October 2, 2008 outlining enforcement of section 4 of COTPA, stating ‘No person shall smoke in any public place’, with an exception of designated smoking area in place.

“This one clause retained is a killer poison as it is affecting millions to smoke,” Hazarika further said.

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