01 Oct 2008 10:42:00 PM IST
NEW DELHI: Manram has just finished his morning job of trimming the plants and installed himself on the wooden charpai in front of his hut in a corner of the public park. As he opens his bundle of bidi manram is unaware that from the Gandhi Jayanti day he would be committing an offence as he smokes in a public place.
Like Manram, Ramesh a cigarette shop owner is not unduly worried about some ban that he has been told would come into effect from October second.
A ban on smoking at public places that becomes effective on October two has caused little worry among smokers.
“No, I am not at all worried with this ban,” says Rahul a moderate smoker.
“I will continue to smoke where and how I want. The police is not able to control the terrorists, so I don’t expect them to come and fine us,” asserts Viplav who is not thinking of giving up smoking.
“The government cannot ban smoking because it’s the largest revenue generator for them,” he adds.
According to the Tobacco Institute of India statistics, cigarettes contribute 85 per cent to the total excise revenues collected from the tobacco industry amounting to Rs 8 500 crore.
As per government notification smoking is strictly prohibited in all public places. Public place includes auditorium, hospital buildings, health institutions, amusement centres, restaurants, public offices, court buildings, educational institutions, libraries, public conveyances, stadium, railway stations, bus stops, workplaces, shopping malls, cinema halls, refreshment homes, discotheques, coffee house, pubs, bars, airport lounge etc.
“With the management being made responsible if smoking is done within office premises, I don’t think my office will anymore allow me to smoke,” says Pramod who works in a call centre in the capital.
“But I think my efficiency will also come down being a call-center employee working at night is really tedious. So for me smoking is the recharge coupon that keeps me going. But now I think most of the time I’ll feel sleepy while working,” he adds.
Meanwhile, psychiatrist Jitendra Nagpal says there is no scientific evidence available to show that smoking increases efficiency. This is all excuses given by people who are reluctant to change.
Nagpal, who is senior consultant at Nimhans an institute of mental health here says this is a welcome move by government because above all we must understand that smoking causes a high rate of morbidity and mortality and self-regulation is the only way to fight out of it.
Smokers across the country share similar woes. “The day I heard that smoking will be banned in office I have been trying to quit, but was not able to concentrate on my work and have been committing mistakes,” says Amit, who is employed at a private bank.
Moreover, the residents in the capital feel that the time-period for the ban on smoking is too short to give up a habit that has been a part and parcel of their lives for long.
“How can the government decide a day for us and say you can’t smoke anymore. It’s difficult to give-up,” says Ragini who lives in the National capital.
But all is not gloomy with employees coming up with innovative ideas to tackle the pressure.
“When the government will ban smoking in offices, I have decided to moot a idea of a smoking-break in my office on the terms of a lunch break,” says Arjun Mehta who works for an IT major.
“For me smoking is as important as food, I’ll prefer not to eat food but make sure I smoke,” he adds. But many also question the ban. “I think road is the biggest public place by not banning smoking on it the government has failed to justify its intent,” says Aruna who lives in Karol bagh, a central Delhi locality.
Similar concerns are raised by many. “When we smoke in office or hotels there’s a separate place for us and thus passive smokers are at minimum risk. But at home and on roads the risk of non-smokers being affected is more,” says Paul who resides in Mayur Vihar.
“The government should have instead let the separate smoking zones be in place and ban it on roads,” he adds.
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