Union health minister Anbumani Ramadoss has announced a nationwide ban on smoking and other forms of tobacco consumption in all government and private offices from October 2. Smoking will also be disallowed in such “public places” as small cafes, restaurants, schools, pubs, discotheques, stadia, airports, hospitals and bus stands. Those caught smoking in these “public places” will be fined Rs 200, and organisations which allow employees to smoke within their premises will in turn have to pay Rs 5,000 per employee caught smoking. Roads and parks are not off-limits for smokers.
Coming on top of his sustained efforts to convince movie stars and other celebrities to not light up in public, and to have a skull and bones signs on cigarette and beedi packs, Dr Ramadoss says the latest move is to “save India’s future”. Between 250-300 million Indians consume tobacco in its various forms. Upto 10 lakh people are said to die every die every year from tobacco-induced diseases and 40% of the health problems of Indians, he says, stem from tobacco consumption.
Questions: Will the smoking ban work? If you are a smoker, will you stub it out, out of concern for yourself and for your colleagues? Or will you risk a fine? Do we have the personnel to police the ban? Are Indian smokers sensitive to the concerns of non-smokers? Is this a circumcision of individual rights in the name of the greater common good when there are far more important things to deal with? Or is the much-maligned Anbumani Ramadoss on to a good thing here?
Photograph: an 80-year-old non-smoker’s lungs, left; and the lungs of a smoker suffering from emphysema, right (courtesy nchypnosis.com)
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