BY OUR STAFF REPORTER
GUWAHATI, June 25: In bid to make the public transport system of the State free from the dreadful effect of tobacco, the Commissioner of Transport has issued instruction to all District Transport Officers (DTOs) to strictly enforce the anti-tobacco laws in the Public Transport system of Assam.
In a first of its kind initiative from the Transport Department to tackle the mece of tobacco, Commissioner of Transport Dr. J Balaji though a letter dated June 18, 2015 requested all DTOs of the State to take necessary steps for making public places like bus stand, parking places, all public conveyances, halting places including Transport (RTO) offices as no smoking area/zone.
The letter from the Commissioner Transport also asked the DTOs to make necessary arrangement for declaring such places No Smoking Area/ Zone and also take necessary action against the violators as per the Cigarette and Other Tobacco Product Act (COTPA), 2003.
The Commissioner directed the DTOs to launch campaign to create awareness among the drivers/handyman/vehicle operators against the use of smoking or non-smoking tobacco.
It may be mentioned that violation of section 4 of COTPA, 2003 (ban on smoking in public places) is still prevalent in public conveyance and on most occasions the staff involved in the public conveyance are found to be the violators.
Dr. Balaji through the letter also directed the DTOs to submit action taken report in this regard to the Commissioner’s office on a regular basis.
Voluntary Health Association of Assam (VHAA), a non-profit organization working in the field of tobacco control in Assam for the last decade or so initiated an advocacy campaign with the Transport Department on May last to push for making public transport system in the State tobacco free.
The Tobacco Control team of the VHAA was invited to take part in the meeting of all DTOs held at the office of the Commissioner Transport on June 8 last and thereon presented a power point presentation on the role of the Transport Department officials on implementation of COTPA.
The letter was issued by the Commission in reference to the discussion on COTPA implementation that took place during the meeting on June 8.
Assam is a major victim of tobacco abuse with 39% of adults in the State is consuming some form of tobacco - Cigarettes, Bidis & Smokeless (Gutka, Khaini etc).
According to experts other than the harms 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 Ministry of Health & FW revealed that 51 % of adults were exposed to secondhand smoke at home and as well as in public places.