Tobacco control has simply become more difficult

Director Anurag Basu, a cancer survivor, always follows COTPA rule of displaying anti-tobacco health messages and getting actor Ranbir Kapoor read out the disclaimer “smoking is injurious to health” in Barfee!

But, as amended COTPA rules coming into force on Tuesday, the anti-tobacco campaign and the doctors say that it would be another long struggle to ensure the implementation of anti-tobacco laws. The amendment to cigarettes and other tobacco products Act - COTPA - notice last month ended the Central Board Film Certification (CBFC) deciding on the ‘A’ certificate for films that promote use of tobacco.

“They even dropped a condition in which the actors read the disclaimer on the harmful effects of smoking,” said Dr Pankaj Chaturvedi, head and neck cancer surgeon at Tata Memorial Hospital, who led the campaign against tobacco.

 He says that the notification referred to the Ministry of Health will produce audiovisual Disclaimer and send it to the Censor Board for filmmakers, where the actor was unavailable for disclaimer. “This is a step back in our campaign and the fight will intensify further,” said Chaturvedi.

ENT specialist Dr. Vandana Joshi, who created the PACE (Prevention of dependency through education of the child), along with other doctors said tobacco smoking has increased among children under the age of 12 years. “I am disappointed parents coming to my OPD and does not know how to cope with this problem,” says Joshi which appealed to the PACE 40 schools and
Cutting down on smoking can reduce heart attacks by 25 percent, especially among young people and non-smokers, and in accordance with the World Health Organization, 80 percent of heart problems can be avoided by lifestyle changes such as smoking cessation, diet and exercise.

“So many people can be seen smoking on the roads. There should be a greater emphasis on knowledge,” said Joshi.

Four years after smoking in public places has been made a punishable offense attracting a fine up to Rs 200, questions arise about how effective the ban proved. In Pune division had no drive for the ban in April 2011, to acknowledge the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) officials. In 2009-10, the fines were imposed on 237 people, and that number rose to 605 in 2010-11 to April. When contacted, FDA Joint Commissioner Shashikant Kekare said the focus was too late to implement a ban on chewing gutkha and other tobacco products. In addition to FDA, there are 21 bodies of the charge for the implementation of the ban.

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