Ban Fails to Drive out Tobacco from Educational Campus
BHUBANESWAR: Shops selling tobacco products dot the periphery of colleges and universities in the Capital, in violation of the ban on sale of tobacco within 100-metres of educational institutions.
According to Section 6 (B) of the Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products (Prohibition on Advertising and Regulating Trade, Commerce, Production, Supply and Distribution) Act (COTPA), 2003, sale of tobacco products is prohibited within 100 metres of any educational institution so that students do not have immediate access to the products. The ban, though, hardly seems to have had any impact. Repeated attempts by authorities concerned to get rid of such stalls in the vicinity have gone up in smoke.
As per the guidelines, even faculty members are restricted from using tobacco products in the tobacco-free zone. But, students purchasing cigarettes and 'gutka' from shops located in the vicinity of their colleges has become a common sight and teachers too do not hesitate from using tobacco products during college hours on the institution's premises.
College authorities said they are helpless when it comes to adhering to the anti-tobacco norms.
Principals of BJB Autonomous College and Maharishi College of Natural Law said their responsibility lies in displaying the anti-tobacco rules on the premises and ensuring the ban within 100-metre radius of the college. They said, it is neither possible to keep an eye on each and every student who consumes 'pan masala' or smokes in the campus nor get the shops shifted.
Meanwhile, Department of Higher Education on Saturday directed principals of all colleges to report violation of COTPA in their institutions to the respective police stations so that action can be taken. Besides, they have been asked to circulate IEC (Information, Education and Communication) material among students on the ills of tobacco consumption and include the topic in curriculum.
"At a State-level coordination meeting on tobacco consumption held recently, it was revealed that prevalence of tobacco use was more among students pursuing higher education. So we have asked principals of both Government and private colleges to ensure strict adherence to COTPA," said Secretary of the Department, Gagan Dhal.
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