Representative image. Courtesy: The Bay Magazine

Hookah bars and shops selling tobacco products have come under the scanner of the Jorhat district administration in the eastern Assam district.

At a meeting held on Thursday, the administration along with the Jorhat district Tobacco Control Cell has decided to create public awareness against hookah bars as they encourage smoking.

Bhaktimay Bhattacharyya, nodal officer said that most hookah bars use sweetening agents which is not against the law.

“Superintendent of Police Vaibhav Nimbalkar who was also present in the meeting said that hookah bars which mostly used sweeteners were not illegal but that an appeal should be made so that outlets desisted from opening such bars as it encouraged youths to smoke. Public awareness should also be created against such bars,” Bhattacharyya said.

Regarding shops selling narcotics substances the district administration has decided to paint a yellow line on the streets to demarcate the 100 metre radius from the boundary of the educational institutes in order to make it easy for the District Tobacco Control Cell (DTCC) to prevent shops from selling of tobacco and tobacco-related products.

Under Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Productts (COTPA) Act, 2003, tobbaco and tobacco-related items cannot be sold within the radius of 100 metres of an educational institute and there is provision of penalty if the said provision of the law is violated.

The meeting of the DTCC, Jorhat was chaired by the Development Commissioner Gitanjali Dutta and  attended senior district  administration, police, health, transport department officials along with representatives of NGOs and educational institutes.

Bhattacharyya said that having a clear visible demarcation will make it easy for DTCC teams, which are accompanied by policemen on drives to enforce different provisions of COTPA, which also prevents smoking in public places.

A district administration official stated that in the last month the DTCC had collected Rs 7080 as fine from people who violated the national anti-tobacco law.

Bhattacharyya further said that those villages which had been declared tobacco free had given a proposal  to the administration to make short-duration awareness films on ill-effects of tobacco consumption on health to encourage people, especially the youths, to abstain from tobacco and tobacco-related products.

“There were about 120 villages and educational institutions which had been declared tobacco free by DTCC but sustainability has become a big problem,” he said.

“The short duration film based on people in different villages who had suffered and the leaders who took the steps to make the villages or institutes tobacco free it is hoped will help in sustaining the movement. Otherwise many of them have gone back to their old ways,” he added.

The meeting further decided to intensify awareness measures against consumption of tobacco and tobacco-related products, by holding meetings at street corners, village markets and at schools and colleges.

Smita Bhattacharyya

Smita Bhattacharyya is Northeast Now Correspondent in Jorhat. She can be reached at: triptyaddy@gmail.com

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