Freedom from Smoking

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The world health organization had estimated that there were around 94 million smokers in India in 2007. Surely the numbers have risen this year (it’s estimated to be around 120 million), engulfing the lives of not just the smokers but also the non-smokers (it’s said that passive smoking is as injurious as active smoking). According to a recent study, India’s death toll due to tobacco smoking will be around 1 million people per year, by the year 2010. This horrendous habit kills not only from diseases like cancer and lung diseases but also from tuberculosis and heart attacks. In order to discourage people from endangering their lives for a temporary high or relaxation, the government will introduce a no smoking policy which is effective from October 2, 2008.

“From October 2, the government has introduced the no smoking policy in all indoor establishments,” Union Health Minister Anbumani Ramadoss told reporters in Bangalore on Tuesday. “Smoking will not be permitted in any private or public building. Companies can no longer have designated smoking rooms. Smokers will have to step outside into open space if they wish to smoke,” said Ramadoss who has been in the forefront in pushing for the ban on tobacco and tobacco products.

The rule applies to all companies, including IT companies, small cafes, restaurants, pubs or discotheques. Hotels having more than 30 seat arrangement would have to create a separate enclosure for smokers and a separate ventilation arrangement as per the act, he said.

I personally feel that it’s a very positive step in the pursuit of building a healthier and cleaner India. Even though the ill effects of smoking are well known even to chain smokers, but the ready availability of space to have a puff doesn’t give them chance to think twice before plunging into the whirlpool of this slow destruction. I’m confident that this policy will restrict a lot of casual smokers and only those who just cannot resist the urge to have a puff will come out on the streets. Hopefully factors like going out on the street, finding the company of a compulsive smoker, wastage of time etc will dampen the spirits of even chain smokers in some time.

Smoking is registering a steady decline in western countries as the non-smoking policies are becoming stricter and the general awareness about the dangerous after-effects of smoking is increasing amongst people. Unfortunately, India didn’t seem to ape the west in this regard till now with the percentage of smokers increasing every year in India. Let’s all hope that laws like the one being imposed from October 2 will help in bringing about a drastic change in the present scenario.

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