GUWAHATI, July 12 - The Guwahati Police has intensified its drive against smoking at public places, fining violators under the Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products Act, 2003 (COTPA).
It is also acting tough against direct or indirect advertising, sale to or by minors, sale within 100 yards of schools and non-display of pictorial warnings on all tobacco product packages.
A statement issued by Sambandh Health Foundation (SHF) quoting Dr Ramandeep Kaur, DCP East Guwahati, said the police also serves the citizens, especially youths, 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 the SHF, added the statement.
�We hope this campaign will increase public awareness and help make our public places and educational institutes tobacco-free,� Dr Kaur said.
She further added that the police officials who are involved in the enforcement of COTPA Act had participated in the training and taken a pledge to support the cause of tobacco control in Assam.
Assam has more than one 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 Rs 540 crore is spent on treatment of tobacco-related diseases in Assam annually for persons aged 35-69. In the last seven years, the prevalence of tobacco has gone up from 39.3 per cent in 2010 to 48.2 per cent in 2017.
Dr Ashok Das, cancer surgeon at the BBCI and Voice of Tobacco Victims (VoTV) patron, said, �I see so many youngsters coming to me with tobacco-related cancers. Youths 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 are initiated into tobacco use every day. So, this enforcement by police in Guwahati is commendable.�
As per the Global Adult Tobacco Survey, 2017, Assam, 8.2 per cent of men, 62.9 per cent of women and 32.9 per cent of all adults (above 15 years of age) currently either smoke and/or use smokeless tobacco. As per data, 25.3 per cent of men, 0.8 per cent of women and 13.3 per cent of all adult currently smoke tobacco, while 50.5 per cent of men, 32.5 per cent of women and 41.7 per cent of all adults currently use smokeless tobacco.