Citizens behind the success of "Smoke-Free Chandigarh"

Not only the city residents, but even the tourists appreciate the smoke-free hotels and restaurants of Chandigarh. Even if there be some amount of enforcement problem with smoking in certain public places but one must not forget that Chandigarh is the only place in the whole country where all restaurants and hotels provide completely smoke-free environment. Having smoke-free policy and environment in each and every educational institute is also not a small thing to celebrate about.

ChandigarhJuly 23, 2008 /India PRwire/ -- Chandigarh celebrated the first anniversary of being smoke-free on July 15, 2008. One year back, the Chandigarh Administration declared itself free from toxic tobacco smoke and its commitment to adhere to the tobacco control legislation in its letter and spirit.

Burning Brain Society, which keeps the tab on the compliance and enforcement said that despite laxity by the enforcement agencies, voluntary compliance of tobacco control laws remain high at over seventy percent at all times. At the peak of the initiative the compliance was as high as ninety two percent.

“Effective enforcement by the police can always push the compliance level to a higher level. But what is remarkable is that the public has embraced the concept as if they were waiting for it. People complaint even if a single person is seen smoking any where in public. This kind of involvement of the general public is wonderful.” said Hemant Goswami, chairperson of the Society.

“The media has also been supportive to the extent that now anyone smoking even in an open area (not defined as public area) is reported and so the authorities are coaxed to work. Media photographers have been complaining that they have to search out for an hour before they can click a picture of anyone smoking as a supporting visual for the story. This in itself is an evidence of success of the concept.” Goswami adds.

“Not only the city residents, but even the tourists appreciate the smoke-free hotels and restaurants of Chandigarh. Even if there be some amount of enforcement problem with smoking in certain public places but one must not forget that Chandigarh is the only place in the whole country where all restaurants and hotels provide completely smoke-free environment. Having smoke-free policy and environment in each and every educational institute is also not a small thing to celebrate about.” Says APS Shergill, a member of Chandigarh Tobacco Control Cell

Mr. Vivek Atray, Director Tourism of Chandigarh Administration agrees that all has not been rosy and says, “There have been many ups and down and some minor problems, but largely, the experiment has been successful and we can proudly say that Chandigarh has once again proved to be a pioneer in yet another public welfare initiative. It will take a couple of year for any other city in India to even match the levels where we are at present. The tourism industry is bound to gain a lot by this initiative.”

“The problematic area of the smoke-free initiative remains the lack of active enforcement by the Police, laid out casual approach of the Health department and the non-removal of road side tobacco vendors by the Muncipal Corporation,” informs Jagdish Singh Sarpal of CTCC

Hemant Goswami who recently visited London to assess and compare the level of compliance and adherence to smoke-free laws says, “Chandigarh is better than London on all fronts when it comes to protecting people from toxic tobacco smoke and adhering to smoke-free laws. The only low side in Chandigarh is enforcement by police otherwise we are better than London in all respects.”

The civil society and members of Chandigarh Tobacco Control Cell have kept the heat on and in the month of July Burning Brain Society filed nearly five hundred complaints to make sure that the tobacco control legislation is adhered to.

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