Srinagar, September 22
Officials manning the Regional Transport Offices (RTO’s) in the state have been directed to issue fitness certificates to commercial vehicles only after ‘no smoking’ signage boards are displayed in the vehicles prominently. The decision was taken during a sensitization workshop conducted for the officers of the Transport Department in Jammu and Srinagar. The workshop was organized by Voluntary Health Association of India (VHAI) in collaboration with J&K Voluntary Health Association.
“Fitness certificate to all vehicles will only be issued if ‘No Smoking’ signage is displayed at a prominent place in the vehicle,” the senior officials told the RTO’s and ARTO’s attending the workshop. Besides, all monthly review meetings of ARTO’s should include COTPA compliance on the agenda and the number of challans made against COTPA violators, the officials were told.
“The money generated from challans collected under COTPA violations shall be spend on promotion of anti-tobacco awareness activities,” the officials were advised. Besides, all ARTOs were asked to organize training programs in their respective districts for awareness of the tobacco control program Act and submission of monthly report in implementing the COTPA 2003. “The main objective of the workshops was to sensitize the transport officers on COTPA Act with focus being on getting ‘No Smoking’ stickers displayed in all vehicles in general and in public conveyances in particular,” a VHAI statement said while giving details of the workshop.
Pertinently, Transport Department in the state had earlier issued instructions to all its officials to implement Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products (Prohibition of Advertisement and Regulation of Trade and Commerce Production, Supply and Distribution) Act (COTPA) in the transport department and to strictly enforce anti-tobacco laws in the public transport system of the state. The officials in Transport Department were advised to take necessary steps for making public places like bus stands, commercial vehicles and all public conveyances including Transport offices as ‘No Smoking Areas’.
The officials were also authorized under COTPA to fine smokers in public conveyances. Violations can attract a fine of up to Rs 200. ‘No Smoking’ signage of 60x30cm have to be displayed in all public vehicles at a prominent place, as mandated by section-4 of the Act. Similarly, directions were issued to ensure that there are no direct and indirect advertisements, sponsorship of tobacco products on public conveyances, as mandated by sec-5 of COTPA.
Pertinently, 26.6% population of Jammu & Kashmir is using tobacco product in one or the other of its form. Jammu & Kashmir has 12% cigarette smokers, 3.8% bidi smokers and 8.0% smokeless tobacco users. J&K’s cigarette use prevalence (12%) is almost double the nationwide prevalence of 5.7%. It has come to light that the highest proportion of adults (67.9%) exposed to tobacco smoke in offices are in J&K and the lowest (15.4%) are in Chandigarh.