Most fined for public smoking: Karnataka leads with 35% cases

most fined for public smoking: karnataka leads with 35% cases

Most fined for public smoking: Karnataka leads with 35% cases

BENGALURU: With more than 5 lakh of the 14.3 lakh people fined for smoking in public, Karnataka accounts for 35% — the highest for any state — of all such cases booked in the country between 2019-20 and 2021-22.

The defaulters were given challans under section 4 of the Cigarettes and other Tobacco Products (Prohibition of Advertisement and Regulation of Trade and Commerce, Production, Supply and Distribution) Act, which restricts people from “smoking in any public place.”

The exception, however, is when a hotel with 30 rooms or a restaurant having seating capacity of 30 people or more, and airports, makes a separate provision for smoking areas. The Act, introduced to reduce smoking at public places and to protect non-smokers from involuntary exposure to tobacco smoke, prescribes a fine which may extend upto Rs 200 for violating section 4.

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“The department has been entrusted with enforcing the law and we’ve been doing it efficiently. While we’ve not looked to compare our enforcement performance with other states, we urge people to not indulge in smoking in public,” Karnataka DG&IG Praveen Sood said. Data from the union health ministry for the past three years shows Kerala, Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh too have a high number of people fined.

They together account for more than 65% in each of the three years. In 2019-20, the four states together accounted for 64.6% of the 3.8 lakh people fined. In 2020-21, it was 81.4% of the 3.1 lakh, and in 2021-22, 68.7% of the 3.1 lakh offenders. Overall, they account for over 10.1 lakh or 70% of the 14.3 lakh people penalised.

The government had, in 2020, drafted an amendment to the Act and is in the process of vetting suggestions and representations made by various stakeholders.

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