Manish Swarup/AP
New Delhi, India

India Enacts Tougher Antismoking Law

October 03, 2008 11:54 AM
by findingDulcinea Staff
India is hoping that better enforcement and a government campaign will finally convince the nation's smokers to quit the deadly habit.

Law’s Effectiveness Remains to Be Seen

The ban went into effect on Thursday, and coincided with the birthday of independence leader Mohandas Gandhi. It applies to all offices, restaurants, schools and colleges, pubs and discotheques, hospitals and even bus stops, reports Reuters. Those who break the law will be fined 200 rupees ($4).

Public health officials now say that their focus is on getting the nation’s 120 million smokers to quit altogether. But it won’t be easy, acknowledges the country’s health minister, Anubamani Ramadoss. “This is going to be a continuous process,” he said.

That’s because this isn’t India’s first attempt to curb smoking. Previous antismoking laws have been roundly ignored, and most agree that compliance with the new law will depend on enforcement. India in the past has also had problems enforcing bans on spitting and urinating in public, and even adherence to traffic lights.

But this time, officials are hoping that an antismoking campaign and tougher enforcement will coax people to quit.

Tobacco companies, however, say that the ban limits individual rights, and some smokers agree. “The intention may be good, but are we a nanny state?” said Sanjay Yadav to Reuters, in New Delhi.

Background: India residents open to smoking ban

In a survey published on Sept. 18, about 92 percent of 1,030 people from Mumbai, New Delhi, Chennai and Kolkata, said that they support limiting smoking in hotels, bars, restaurants, cinemas, schools and hospitals. Eighty-four percent said that second-hand smoke is a serious health issue.

The findings were similar to those from surveys conducted in other countries that have already banned smoking. In recent years, Turkey, the Netherlands, France, the United Kingdom, and Germany have instituted laws affecting the ability to light up in public, with varying effects.

About one-fifth of India’s population—or 120 million people—are smokers. A New England Journal of Medicine study published in February said that, within a few years, 1 in 10 deaths in the country will be related to smoking.

Related Topic: Countries that have limited smoking

Turkey, a nation known for its tobacco, enacted the world’s strictest public smoking ban on Jan. 3 of this year, making smoking illegal in any enclosed public space, including bars, nightclubs, shopping centers and taxis.

In July, the Netherlands’ iconic coffee shops were being forced to reinvent the wheel after a new ban on smoking tobacco in restaurants and cafes went into effect that may have had the unintended effect of encouraging more cafe customers to smoke pure cannabis, instead of the cannabis-tobacco blends that had been staples at such establishments.

Many feared the death of French cafe culture last year when France imposed a smoking ban in most public places that was later extended to bars, restaurants, hotels, nightclubs, and cafes. Germany’s smoking ban, which began around the same time, requires that pub and restaurant patrons indulging in nicotine do so in separate, closed-off rooms.

After the United Kingdom instituted a ban on smoking in public places last year, most pub and restaurant owners reported either an increase or no change in the number of customers, despite previous concerns that businesses would suffer.

Reference: The global state of smoking


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