India has become the latest country to ban smoking in most public places,
starting Thursday. From New Delhi, Anjana Pasricha reports on the government's
efforts to stub out smoking, which kills an estimated one million people in the
country, every year.
sells cigarettes at a popular roadside stall, near a movie theater and a high
school in Delhi. He is confident the ban on smoking in public places will not
impact his sales.
He says, if authorities are strict, his sales might
plummet. However, he feels most people are neither scared nor bothered about the
Health ministry officials think otherwise. They are
optimistic that the ban will help cut down smoking among the country's estimated
250 million tobacco users. Most of them are men.
An earlier drive against
smoking in public made little impact. The new ban, which came into effect
Thursday, is more sweeping. The places where lighting up is prohibited include
hotels, restaurants, schools, pubs, offices, night clubs, hospitals, airports
and bus stops.
The government has directed these establishments to
appoint anti-smoking officers who will be accountable, if people smoke on their
premises. Those caught violating the ban can be fined up to five
Health Minister Anbumani Ramadoss says smoking curbs are needed
in a country where more than half the population is under 30.
it is fantastic to be in a youthful country, we need to protect this very
valuable resource from the harmful effects of tobacco," Ramadoss
However, most people feel that enforcing the ban may not be easy in
a country where many rules are routinely violated.
smoker puffs away in a marketplace and doubts whether the ban will help him cut
"Not much of it. Only thing is you will have to see where
you are, that is all," the smoker said.
But the government hopes that
the ban will slowly make a difference, as it has in several countries, where
curbs on smoking in public places have been imposed in recent years.
Smokers in India are apparently more vulnerable to tobacco-related
diseases than those in other countries. A study earlier this year (published in
New England Journal of Medicine) found that two-thirds of all smoking-related
deaths in India occur relatively early - between the ages of 30 and
The ban came into effect after the Supreme Court rejected a plea by
cigarette giant Indian Tobacco Company and hotel interests for a