80 persons fined by anti-smoking squads in capital

October 3rd, 2008 - 9:00 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Oct 3 (IANS) Anti-smoking squads fined 80 violators for smoking in public places across the capital Friday, a Delhi government official said.”The eight anti-smoking squads conducted raids at 50 public places including restaurants, bus stands and Inter State Bus Terminals (ISBTs) across the capital. 289 buses were also raided by the squads throughout the day,” State Tobacco Control Officer, Delhi government, R.P. Vashisht told IANS.

“During these raids the squads fined 80 people — 79 males and one female — and Rs.8,940 were collected as fine,” Vashisht said.

The Prohibition of Smoking in Public Places Rules, 2008, passed by the union health ministry, came into force Oct 2, the birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi.

The new rules expand the definition of public places from government buildings to include all office buildings, hospitals, schools, colleges, railway stations, airports, bus stands, hotels and restaurants. If caught, smokers will have to pay up to Rs.200 and even the owners of the premises can be held liable.

“Maximum numbers of violations were found at the ISBTs - particularly Anand Vihar bus terminal. However, I am very happy that there was not a single violation found in the buses,” Vashisht further said.

Delhi has been implementing the anti-smoking rules since 1997. According to official records, “from 1997 till July 2008, the Delhi government has fined more than 87,000 people for smoking in public places.”

“Every year, on an average, Rs.700,000 are collected as fines,” Vashisht added.

He stated that strict guidelines have been given to the squads for implementation of anti-smoking rules.

“We have given strict guidelines to the squads and told them that no one should be harassed. We have asked them to be polite but firm,” Vashisht said.

“The squads have been told to educate those found violating the rules due to ignorance. Anti-smoking law is a social law and it is to educate and make people aware,” he added.

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