No smoking non-starter in Uttar Pradesh

June 2nd, 2009 - 3:45 pm ICT by IANS  

Lucknow, June 2 (IANS) The much-hyped anti-tobacco campaign of the government remains a non-starter in Uttar Pradesh - be it the ban on smoking in public places or the more recently introduced pictorial warnings on cigarette packets.
Both the anti-tobacco moves have been ignored in the country’s most populous state that was also known as the highest consumer of tobacco in the country.

The state government’s complacent attitude towards the issue was amply visible in its indifference towards enforcement of the ban in its own offices. There was not a single government where one could find the ‘No Tobacco’ signage, even as a health department spokesman admitted that “the central government has allocated 500 signages for each district”.

Even the officers and their subordinate staff defy the law and there is none to pay any heed to its enforcement.

Significantly, the State Tobacco Control Cell, set up by the government nearly two years ago, has not met even once. Its ex-officio head N.P. Singh, who was also the state’s director (medical care), is mostly not found in his chamber at the state’s health directorate here.

The cell is as non-functional in the capital as in any of the other 71 districts of the state.

“There might have been some laxity, but we will now see to it that the law is adhered to in true letter and spirit,”, said Lucknow District Magistrate Chandra Bhanu.

Interestingly, these cells were created to monitor the implementation of the Ban on Smoking at Public Places Act-2008 in every district.

Uttar Pradesh’s principal secretary (health) Pradeep Shukla said: “Well, enforcement of the anti-tobacco law is among our top priorities; we may not have been able to enforce it very aggressively so far, but that does not mean we are going to allow people to take the law lightly.”

“We have already activated the special cells to spread awareness about the latest anti-tobacco laws and you will soon see the difference,” he added.

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