Assam to make public transport smoking-free

Guwahati, June 25 (IANS) The transport department of the Assam government has decided to strictly enforce anti-tobacco laws on its public transport system, an official said.

The transport department recently asked all district transport officers (DTOs) in the state to take necessary steps for making public places like bus stands, parking places, all public conveyances, and halting places including transport offices ‘no smoking’ areas or zones.

Assam Commissioner of Transport J. Balaji recently asked the DTOs to make necessary arrangement for declaring such places ‘No Smoking Area’ and take necessary action against violators as per the Cigarette and Other Tobacco Product Act (COTPA), 2003.

He also asked the DTOs to submit action taken reports (ATRs) to the department at regular intervals.

Balaji directed the DTOs to launch campaigns to create awareness among drivers, handymen and all sorts of vehicle operators across the state against the use of smoking or non-smoking tobacco.

Violation of section 4 of COTPA, 2003, is still prevalent in public conveyance and on most occasions the staff are found to be the violators.

Voluntary Health Association of Assam, a non-profit organisation working in the field of tobacco control for the last decade, initiated an advocacy campaign with the transport department in the month of May this year to push for making the public transport system in the state tobacco-free.

Assam is a major victim of tobacco abuse with 39 percent of adults in the state consuming some form of tobacco.

According to experts, other than the harm caused to smokers, smoking presents another major health hazard through second-hand smoking.

Second-hand smoke — smoke that has been exhaled or breathed out by the person or people smoking — causes a range of diseases in both children and adults.

A recent survey conducted by the ministry of health and family welfare revealed that 51 percent of adults were exposed to second-hand smoke at home as well as in public places.

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