Tobacco in Manipur and COTPA

Dr Khumukcham Trusty *

  Tobacco products which are widely in use in the State
Tobacco products which are widely in use in the State :: Pix - TSE

"Tobacco is the only product that kills half of its consumer" says experts as it is the leading cause of death and disabilities in India. It is a risk factor of major killer diseases like Cancer, Heart Diseases, Hypertension, Lung Diseases and many more affecting all system of the body.

The habit has very high opportunity cost as it reduces the capacity to seek better nutrition, medical care and education. But who cares? Tobacco is abundantly used in Manipur as more than half of the people here are Tobacco users.

Most of them are daily users and use for multiple times as it is an addictive substance. So it will not be too harsh to say that half our population will die from Tobacco death soon if they leave this habit. There is least awareness about the hazards of Tobacco it harms health, environment and society.

Tobacco is used in various forms, can be broadly categorise in smoking (eg Cigarettes, bidi, hookah etc.) and smokeless (SLT) forms (eg betel quid, Khaini etc.).

According to Global Adult Tobacco Survey (GATS) 2which is regarded as the standard for systematically monitoring adult tobacco use and also a nationally representative survey, the prevalence rate of Tobacco used in any form in Manipur is 55.1 % i.e. a little more half the population of Manipur are users of Tobacco in any form while the overall Indian percentage is 28.6%.

The percentage of male and female using Tobacco in any forms are 62.5% and 47.8 % respectively. Also 35.9%of men, 6.0% of women and 20.9% of all adults currently smoke tobacco. 50.2% of men, 45.2% of women and 47.7% of all adults currently use SLT.

Manipur occupies second rank in the use of Smokeless form (47.7%) of Tobacco after Tripura (48.5%). The commonest form in the State is Betel Quid with Tobacco local term as Kwa Zadar.

Its users are ever increasing in number in the state of Manipur especially among the female population. But the most alarming thing is that Manipur is included in the top 3 in this category. It would not be wrong to say that the signature style of any Manipuri lady is a beautifully make up distorted face due to ball like protrusion on the cheek but neatly dressed.

Manipuri ladies being famed for leading the generation forward. The fate of Manipuri women is at stake only because of this infamous Tobacco use. It is very hazardous substance. It would not be wrong to say that almost all disease in mankind are related to tobacco, it is the risk factor of n number of diseases.

Another sad thing about Manipur in GATS 2 report is that there are many non smokers who are exposed to second hand smoking and most common place of exposure is the home which one considers as the safest place.

The State is at the 2nd top in the list. Here the victims are mostly housewives (worst if she is pregnant) and infants. So there is urgent need to control this menace, a multi prong approach is required. So, various strategies are being designed under the National Tobacco Control Programme.

One of the most important but least known is enforcement of Cigarette and Other Tobacco Products Act(COTPA), first enacted on 18th May 2003. The Act is applicable to all products containing Tobacco in any form and extends to all over India. Though it is more than 16 years old Act it has not been properly implemented.

Since there is little awareness about the legal aspect not only in Public but even among the Law Enforcers too, so some of the important and relevant sections of the COTPA are discussed below. These sections are Sections 4, 5, 6 and 7.

Section 4 prohibits smoking in Public Places and public place has been defined as any place where the public has access whether as of right or not, and includes auditorium, hospital buildings, railway waiting room, amusement centres, restaurants, public offices, court buildings, educational institutions, libraries, public conveyances and the like which are visited by general public but does not include any open space.

The liability is on every owner, /manager, /in-charge of a public place and the owner should ensure that NO SMOKING Signage of the size of 60*30 cm and name and details of the in charge are put up in every prominent places in the premise so that complain or notification can be made to him if anybody found smoking.

Any hotel with 30 or more rooms, any restaurant with sitting capacity of 30 or more and airport should have smoking zone with specifications. No smoking aids like matchbox, lighter, ashtray should be placed in any of these places.

The violator has to pay a fine of Rs 200 every time and it will be compoundable offence. The owner/in charge is also liable if he fails or act on report and amount of fine will be equivalent to the total sum of fines all individual offences.

Section 6 prohibits sale of Tobacco to minors under which Sections 6a warns against tobacco sellers, vendors, and industries against sale of Tobacco to any minors; no minors should handle any Tobacco product and none of the Tobacco product should be displayed in the shop to prevent easy access.

Under this section it is mandatory to display warning about harms of tobacco to youth at point of sale There is specifications of warning board, it should be 60*30 cm. A warning image should cover 50% of the board and language be English or local one. Section 6b Warns against sale of Tobacco products within 100 metres radius of the Institutional boundary. Every point of sale should display a warning board

Section 5 Prohibits advertisement of cigarettes and other tobacco products

Section 7 is about restrictions on trade and commerce in and production, supply and distribution of cigarettes and other tobacco products.

So the need of the hour is creation of widespread awareness about hazards and legal aspects of Tobacco at all level. Though people do know Tobacco is not good but very few knows it is a killer. Every possible medium should be explored and flooded with awareness messages. Since it is an addictive substance One of the most effective control is prevention from use initiation especially among children.

* Dr Khumukcham Trusty wrote this article for The Sangai Express
The writer can be reached at trustykh09(AT)gmail(DOT)com
This article was webcasted on June 01 2019.

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