Reported by Chimaya Dehury/Edited by Sandeep Sahu
Bhubaneswar, Aug 28:
Concerned at the uninhibited sale of gutkha and paan masala despite the statewide ban on these products imposed on January 1 this year, the Health and Family Welfare department has asked all departments concerned to take necessary action, including publishing advertisements in different media, to stop the use of tobacco products.
The Health department has asked other departments including Home, Excise, Commerce & Transport, School and Mass Education, Railway and Information and Public Relations to take necessary steps to implement the ban order in both letter and spirit.
While the Excise and Home departments have been asked to direct district officials to check the illicit use of tobacco, the I & PR department has been asked to prohibit all forms of advertisements promoting and sponsoring tobacco products under section 5 of the Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products Act (COTPA) in both print and electronic media.
The School and Mass Education department has been asked to issue appropriate instructions to school circle inspectors (CIs) and district inspectors (DIs), with necessary help from headmasters, to ensure proper implementation of the guidelines and make schools tobacco-free.
The department has also asked to report and prevent sale of such products within 100 yards of school premises under section 6(A) of COTPA.
“As per the Global Youth Tobacco Survey (GYTS) 2009, the current percentage of tobacco users in the age group 13-15 in Odisha is 14.2%. According to the report of GATS 2009-10, the initiation of tobacco use is more prevalent during the age of 13-15 years and the mean age of tobacco products initiation is 15 in Odisha,” Health secretary PK Mohapatra told Usha Padhi, secretary of School and Mass Education in a letter.
The Health department has also directed the Higher Education department to prevent the use of tobacco.
Besides, the Railways, which has already banned use of tobacco products on platforms, has been directed to display anti-tobacco messages in railway properties like panels, platforms and railway tickets to create awareness among the people.
The government order under the Food Safety and Standards (Prohibition and Restrictions on Sales) Regulations 2011 has provisions of fine up to Rs 10 lakh for manufacturing the banned products. Odisha was the 19th state to ban gutkha.