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  Total ban on public smoking from 2 October

NEW DELHI/PATNA, July 11: Smoking in public and private buildings across the country will be “completely banned’ from 2 October, according to a release issued by the Union ministry of health and family welfare here today. 

From 2 October smoking will not be allowed anywhere “except in selected open spaces like on roads and in parks and nowhere else”, the Union health minister, Dr Ambumani Ramadoss, also announced while addressing the media in Patna after inaugurating a day-long seminar to mark ‘World Population Day’. 

The ban will be enforced in clubs, restaurants, shopping malls, movie theatres and even inside individual homes, he added. The concerned Act, he warned, has been made more stringent and violators will be strictly punishable under the IPC. 

"Smokers can have a puff at the risk of their health in private, in their bedrooms, provided they have the permission of their wives," Ramadoss said. 

India is among 67 countries in the world to have imposed total or partial bans on smoking in public due to the harmful effects of tobacco smoke on the health and environment, but the inclusion of private buildings within its purview is a rarity.

Quoting latest data from his ministry, Dr Ramadoss said while smokers in the West, including USA, UK, Australia and France, had reduced by more than 25 per cent during the last couple of years, in India the number, unfortunately, had gone up by about 20 per cent a year. The government, he said, had no option but to make legislation against smoking more stringent. 

Referring to the dangers of smoking and chewing of tobacco, Dr Ramadoss said in order to effectively impose the nationwide ban the Centre had allocated Rs 500 crore during the current fiscal under the National Anti-Tobacco Mission. n SNS