‘No Smoking’ brings breath of fresh air to university

February 20th, 2008 - 9:18 am ICT by admin  

By Azera Rahman
New Delhi, Feb 20 (IANS) A breath of fresh air is wafting through Delhi University’s north campus with the ‘No Smoking’ diktat coming into force and students casually puffing out rings of smoke becoming a rare, rather than a familiar, sight. Plans are now underway to ensure that colleges do the same as the drive against smoking gathers force.

Amrita Bahari, president of the Delhi University Students Union (DUSU), said she was doing everything possible to ensure that the rule stays for good and doesn’t fade away with time.

“Ever since the ban was imposed from Feb 15, there have been surprise raids in the colleges and around the campus. Hoardings and wall paintings relaying this message are flaunted everywhere,” Bahari said.

“But all of this is not just for now and I can assure everyone that this will last long after I have stepped down from the president’s post. For that, we have now roped in principals of all colleges in north campus to elect nodal officers who will make sure that their respective colleges are smoke free,” Bahari told IANS.

The idea, she said, was to make college authorities also accountable. Delhi University Vice Chancellor Deepak Pental would be sending out letters to college principals and colleges would become self regulatory in another 10 days.

“We will conduct workshops in every college and put up street plays to drive home the message that smoking is injurious to health and the campus must be smoke free. The election of nodal officers, who will be among the teachers, will further strengthen the campaign,” she said.

Since the ban, six students have been fined, of which two were girls. Four vendors selling cigarettes near the colleges have also been penalised.

For first-ime offenders, a fine of Rs.200 is slapped on him or her. Subsequently, one has to shell out Rs.500 each time one is caught smoking on the campus.

Abhishek Kumar, a vendor in the Patel Chest area near the campus that is choc-a-bloc with shops selling second-hand books and photostat shops, said cigarette sales had dipped in the last few days.

“The regulars who come by, buy a cigarette and smoke it immediately because they are scared of being caught by the squad,” Kumar said.

“But that’s alright. We are also discouraging students from buying cigarettes,” he added.

Arpita Singh, a second-year student of Hansraj College, said the newly imposed ban has made students very cautious.

“I do smoke but after this ban and after my friend was slapped a fine of Rs.200, I have become very careful. Ditto goes for the rest of my gang of friends. We make it a point of not smoking in the campus,” Singh said.

“But it’s a good move,” she added.

Arshad, a first-year student of Kirori Mal College who stays in a private hostel, was also appreciative.

“There are many of us in the hostel who are pressurised by our seniors in the hostel to take a drag or puff a full cigarette. It’s a sheer torture because I just don’t enjoy smoking. But after this move, I am truly relieved,” he said.

(Azera Rahman can be contacted at azera.p@ians.in)

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