Following the directions of Health and Welfare Minister Balbir Singh Sidhu, 'State Tobacco Control Cell' has collaborated with the Punjab Police and initiated a state-level drive to restrict tobacco consumption and to save children and youth of Punjab.
State Tobacco Control cell on Friday, organized a capacity building workshop for police officials under the National Tobacco Control Programme at Director Health Services Office in Chandigarh. Around 50 Inspectors and Sub Inspectors across Punjab attended this workshop.
Prabodh Kumar, Director, Bureau of Investigation said "Police officials are important stakeholders for the effective implementation of Anti Tobacco Laws."
"The Police department will now work in close collaboration with the Health Department to strictly implement the e-Cigarettes prohibition Act 2019 and other Anti Tobacco laws in the state," he assured.
According to Dr Avneet Kaur, Director Health Services of Punjab, as many as 16,016 Challans have been issued between April-Dec 2019 and 23,886 Challans have been issued in 2018-19 against the violators in Punjab under Cigarette and other Tobacco Products Act, (COTPA) 2003.
"Hookah Bars have been permanently banned in the state after passing the Punjab COPTA amendment act 2018. She further said that under this act, the violators will be penalized up to 3 years imprisonment and Rs 50,000 fine," she added.
Meanwhile, Dr Rakesh Gupta, Director of Health Services (SI), Punjab made a presentation about e-cigarettes.
Punjab was the first state to declare e-cigarettes as 'unapproved drug' since 2013. Government of India recently imposed a ban on the sale of e-cigarettes in the country
Under this E-Cigarettes Prohibition Act 2019, only Police officials at the rank of Sub Inspectors or above are empowered to take the action against violators of the law.
Dr Rana J Singh, Deputy Regional Director, The Union, South East Asia informed that there are nearly 27,00,000 people using Tobacco in Punjab as these products are still freely available in the state.
"Tobacco is also the most important preventable risk factor for all non-communicable diseases including cancer, hypertension, heart diseases, lung diseases and stroke etc," he said.
Dr Nirlep Kaur, State Nodal Officer, Tobacco Control, Punjab said that Tobacco Cessation centres have been established in all the districts of the state. She also said that about 8,000 persons have been treated in tobacco cessation centres in Punjab from March 19 to December 19, 2019.
(With inputs from ANI)