DIBRUGARH, March 5 - A study has found that the Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products (Prohibition of Advertisement and Regulation of Trade and Commerce, Production, Supply and Distribution) Act (COTPA), 2003 is nearly a failure in the municipality here and the state in general specifically on rules relating to prohibition on sale of cigarettes and other tobacco products, within a radius of 100 yards of educational institutions.
The survey carried out by North East Society for the Promotion of Youth and Masses (NESPYM) around 99 educational institutions in the city here has revealed that 48% of the schools are exposed to cigarettes and other tobacco products as these are openly sold in nearby kiosks and shops.
Further as per rules, educational institutions are required to display prominently a board outside the premises, stating that sale of cigarettes and other tobacco products in an area within a radius of 100 yards of the educational institution is strictly prohibited and that it is an offence punishable under Section 24 of the Act with fine which may extend to Rs 200. But it has come to the light that 77% of the schools have not adhered to the standing rule.
Disclosing the findings before newsmen here, NESPYM Director Dr Chiranjeeb Kakoty said that among those selling cigarettes and tobacco products within 100 yards radius, 96% of the shops were found not displaying any warning signage as required by rules.
Dr Kakoty also said that due to lack of proper implementation of the Act and for the lack of proper approach in checking it, tobacco users and related illness like cancer and respiratory disorders was not dwindling in the State. �Although as per Global Adult Tobacco Survey (GATS), tobacco users from 34.6% in 2009-2010 has shown decline to 28.6% in 2016-2017 in all India level, the scenario is opposite in the State level. The latest report GATS has shown that tobacco users have increased by 8% in the State. Due to hike in the cigarettes and other tobacco products, the purchase of bidi in the State has shot up,� said Dr Kakoty.
Dr Kakoty said that strict implementation of the Act and rigorous sensitization awareness and motivation to bring about behavioural change is essential to contain the threat of use of cigarettes and tobacco products. If there is no commitment, children will be at risk.