Make tobacco control part of social policing: Health Ministry

Updated: Feb 24, 2013, 19:13 PM IST

New Delhi: With alarming rise in deaths related to tobacco use, the Health Ministry has for the first time sought the intervention of the Home Ministry for making implementation of a tobacco control law a part of social policing.

Health Secretary Keshav Desiraju, in a letter to Union Home Secretary RK Singh, also suggested that violation of the law should be monitored in monthly crime review meetings at police stations at district level.

Noting that 8 to 9 lakh people die annually due to tobacco use, the Health Ministry wants effective implementation of Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products Prohibition of Advertisement and Regulation of Trade and Commerce Production, Supply and Distribution Act, 2003 and availability of district level data on violation of the law centrally.

So far, the Centre has no such data even though the law is applicable across the country as states are not even taking action against those violating it.

"Globally, countries that have successfully ensured tobacco control have been able to do so by institutionalising its compliance in the existing system. Our experience is that COPTA implementation is best done when it is institutionalised.
"One of the ways of doing that is making COPTA implementation part of the agenda of monthly crime review meetings at district level. I have earlier written to state home secretaries but your intervention will provide the much needed impetus," Desiraju wrote to the Home Secretary recently.

The Union Health Secretary argued that COPTA was a social law enacted in public interest to protect the young and vulnerable from the adverse effects of tobacco use and passive smoking and suggested that implementation of the tobacco control law be considered part of social policing.