Kohima, March 20 (MTNews): National Tobacco Control Program (NTCP) deputy director and state nodal officer Dr Arenla Walling on March 20 said even though tobacco has become a serious threat to society, particularly to the wellbeing of the younger generation, there is no total ban on the sale of tobacco products under the Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products Act (COTPA) 2003.
She also stated that the department has not asked any third party to carry out enforcement of COPTA provisions on tobacco products except the authorized officials and that if there are any such activities, the department has nothing to do with it.
“The tobacco epidemic has been taking a heavy toll on society as indicated by the rising trend of the incidence of diseases and economic burden related to tobacco use and our society must wake up to the threat posed by the tobacco industry before it is too late,” Walling said.
According to her, the National Tobacco Control Program has been carrying out various activities to create awareness about the danger of tobacco products through awareness programs in educational institutions, churches, and communities.
“Apart from that, District Tobacco Control Cells in all the districts are carrying out enforcement activities to enforce the provisions of COTPA 2003 on a regular basis,” she added.
The sections of COTPA 2003 that the state tobacco control cell is prioritizing are Section-4 which prohibits smoking in public places to protect non-smokers from the effect of secondhand smoke in public places, offices, and workplaces; Section 6 (a) Ban on sale of Tobacco products to anybody below 18 years of age; and Section 6 (b) Ban on sale of tobacco products within 100 meters of any educational institutions.
The department, according to Walling, is also trying to invoke the provision of section 77 of Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children Act 2015).
“In this, if any person gives or cause to give to any child, any intoxicating liquor, narcotic drugs or tobacco products, or psychotropic substance except on the order of a duly qualified medical practitioner, such person shall be punishable with rigorous imprisonment for a term which may extend up to seven years of imprisonment or a fine which may extend up to rupees one lakh. An officer from the rank of sub-inspector of police or equivalent rank in other departments is authorized to act on this,” she said.