New Delhi: In a move towards effective implementation of the tobacco control laws, the Delhi's Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) has declared all polling stations in Delhi as no-smoking zones in the upcoming assembly polls to be held on February 7.
The CEO Chandra Bhushan Kumar has issued instructions to all district electoral officers-cum-district magistrates to ensure prohibition of smoking at booths.
The district electoral officers have also been asked to display signs outside the polling booths informing voters about the booths being no-smoking zones.
"As per provisions contained in handbook for Presiding officers 2014 issued by Election Commission of India smoking inside polling station is prohibited. Further, presiding officer to ensure that nobody including polling personnel and polling agents smoke inside the polling station," the order dated January 22 said.
"Your kind attention is also invited to Section (4) of the Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products (Prohibition of Advertisement and Regulation of Trade and Commerce Production, Supply and Distribution) Act COTPA 2003 vide which smoking is prohibited in all public place which is also applicable to polling stations being covered under the category of public space," the order stated.
According to officials from Election Commission, members of Voluntary Health Association of India (VHAI) made representations to the CEO keeping in view the dangers of passive smoking on women voters and non-smokers and urged him to issue directives to help generate awareness about the dangers of smoking.
"We have met all the key officials in Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) of Delhi to ensure that polling stations in Delhi be made smoke-free and requested them to issue necessary directions to all the concerned officials to put complete ban on smoking inside all polling booths," said Bhavna Mukhopadhyay, Executive Director Voluntary Health Association of India.
According to the Global Adult Tobacco Survey (GATS) India 2009-10 released by Union Health Ministry, 24.3 per cent population of Delhi is using tobacco product in one or the other of its form. Delhi has 9.9 per cent cigarette smokers, 8.7 per cent bidi and 10.5 per cent smokeless tobacco users.