Move to amend tobacco control law will improve public health: Forum
The central government has started the COTPA amendment process and introduced the Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products
The Consumer Legal Protection Forum, Assam has applauded the Government of India for starting the amendment process of the tobacco control law " Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products Act, 2003 (COTPA 2003) as this is an important step towards improving public health.
"There is an urgent need to strengthen the provisions for making India smoke free and protect millions of Indians from tobacco-related diseases and deaths. Passive smoking is killing many as designated smoking areas emit smoke which can be injurious to the health of children and non-smokers," Ajoy Hazarika, secretary of the Consumer Legal Protection Forum (CLPF) Assam, said.
The central government has started the COTPA amendment process and introduced the Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products (Prohibition of Advertisement and Regulation of Trade and Commerce, Production, Supply and Distribution) (Amendment) Bill, 2020.
A recent survey conducted in India revealed that 72 per cent believe second-hand smoke is a serious health hazard and 88 per cent of people strongly support the strengthening of the current tobacco control law to address this menace.
As it is, ahead of 'No Smoking Day (March 9), civil societies, doctors, and cancer victims have urged the government of India to remove designated smoking rooms at hotels, restaurants and airports to protect people from second-hand smoke.
"While appreciating the government for initiating the process to amend COTPA 2003, they appealed for immediate removal of the current provision that permits smoking areas to make India 100 per cent smoke-free and check the spread of COVID 19 infection in India," a statement from CLPF Assam said on Tuesday.
According to health experts, "there is growing evidence that smoking is a risk for COVID infection".
"They say that smoking worsens lung function and reduces immunity. Smokers who develop COVID infection have more complications and a greater risk of fatality. All designated smoking areas in hotels and restaurants and even airports should be removed to ensure a 100 percent smoke-free environment. Most of these designated smoking areas are rarely compliant as per COTPA requirements and are actually putting our public at great health risk from exposure to secondhand smoke," the statement said.
In India, smoking is banned in all public as per the Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products (Prohibition of Advertisement and Regulation of Trade and Commerce Production, Supply and Distribution) Act COTPA 2003.In India, smoking is banned in all public as per the Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products (Prohibition of Advertisement and Regulation of Trade and Commerce Production, Supply and Distribution) Act COTPA 2003.
Section 4 of this Act prohibits smoking in any place to which the public has access. However, COTPA 2003, presently allows smoking in certain public places like restaurants, hotels, and airports, in designated smoking areas.
"Second-hand smoking is as harmful as smoking. Exposure to second-hand smoke causes many diseases including, lung cancer and heart disease in adults and the impairment of lung function and respiratory infections in children. People with compromised respiratory and cardiovascular systems are at higher risk for severe COVID-19 severity and death," the statement said.
"Designated smoking areas facilitate the spread of COVID-19 infections as smokers cannot socially distance or wear masks and are trapped in close proximity in a smoke-filled environment," it said.
India has the second-largest number of tobacco users (268 million or 28.6 per cent of all adults in India) in the world " of these at least 1.3 million die every year from tobacco-related diseases.
One million deaths are due to smoking, with over 200,000 due to second-hand smoke exposure, and over 35,000 are due to smokeless tobacco use.
Nearly 27 per cent of all cancers in India are due to tobacco usage.
Tobacco use in all forms, whether smoking or chewing, is associated with severe COVID-19 casualties as per advisories issued by the ministry of health and family welfare and ICMR.
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