All associations pledge to make vehicles as ‘no smoking zones’
Pledging to stop the use of cigarette and tobacco products in public transport vehicles, Transport associations across Jammu have started a vigorous campaign to end tobacco use in all public vehicles.
“We have around 4000 members and all our members will ensure that their vehicles are declared as ‘no smoking zones’ and the relevant signage disallowing passengers to smoke are installed in the vehicles,” Vijay Singh, President All Mishriwala Group, said.
“The menace of tobacco use is not only affecting the health of the people in the state but our tourism Industry as well is taking a hit as tourists who throng the state in large numbers feel irritated by the use of tobacco and other products by the transporters as well as the general public during travel,” he said.
“We have given ten days’ time to all the members to get ‘no smoking signages’ installed in their vehicles. We have already printed 4000 plus stickers and these are being forwarded to all the members for putting them to use in their vehicles,” Anil Chopra, Chairman, Mini Bus Operators Union, Jammu said.
Importantly, the lead associations call of ensuring a ‘smoke free’ transport sector is being taken seriously by other associations as well.
The Jammu-Banihal-Basholi bus service and the Jammu-Rajouri-Poonch bus service too have installed ‘no smoking’ signages in their vehicles and are disallowing passengers from smoking in the vehicles during travel.
Interesting, the auto operators in the region too have decided to make their vehicles as ‘no smoking’ zones by not allowing passengers to smoke during travel.
“We have already made it a point with the regional transport office that no auto rickshaw should be passed during the annual inspection if it does not have a ‘no smoking’ signage installed in the vehicle,” Shanti Singh, President Jammu Auto Operators Association, said.
Pertinently, the government has already asked the officials of the state Transport Department to take necessary steps for making public places like bus stands, commercial vehicles and all public conveyances including Transport offices as ‘No Smoking Areas and Zones’.
“All officials are directed to implement Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products (Prohibition of Advertisement and Regulation of Trade and Commerce Production, Supply and Distribution) Act (COTPA) in the department and to strictly enforce anti-tobacco laws in the public transport system of the state,” an order issued by Commissioner Transport, Parvez Iqbal Khateebearlier said.
The order also authorized officials of the department to penalize smokers in public conveyances under the COTPA act.
Similarly, directions have also been 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, the order said.
Notably, J&K Voluntary Health Association, a non-profit organization working in the field of tobacco-control in the state initiated an advocacy campaign with the transport department to ensure that the public transport system in the state is made tobacco-free.
The COTPA Act enacted in 2003 and applicable to the entire country is aimed to discourage consumption of tobacco products through progressive restrictions and to protect non-smokers from passive smoking.
Interestingly, 26.6% population in the state of Jammu and Kashmir is using tobacco product in one or the other form. The state 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.