People Ban: India Update

India India Update

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Mystery of India’s ‘cigarette smoking’ saint

A CAVALRY officer who died in the days of the British Raj has been declared a saint in India with worshippers claiming he smokes cigarettes left as offerings at his tomb.
March 17, 2013
By: Camilla Tominey
Captain Frederick Wale, or Kaptan Shah Baba as he was known to his 1st Sikh Lancers, was killed aged 36 at a battle with nationalists in Lucknow in 1858.
He has been made a deity and believers tend his grave in Musa Bagh cemetery.
One devotee said: “We leave him food and cigarettes as tributes.
“The cigarettes glow like somebody is inhaling them. We know Shah Baba smoked so there can be only one answer…he is smoking the cigarettes.”
The claims have baffled cemetery officials. One said: “It is rare for people to pray to a foreigner, especially someone British from that period in our history, but people know what they see and they believe it…so who is to say it’s wrong?”
Captain Wale took command of the 1st Sikh irregular cavalry and he served in the siege and capture of Lucknow.
His brigadier reported: “Wale showed great zeal in command and led most successfully in pursuit of the enemy until he was shot.
Read and see photos.


Defying law, smoking continues unchecked at public places
30 January 2010
KANPUR: Are norms regarding smoking in public places being complied with? Not if one went by the findings of non-governmental organisations.
Their survey report finds that around 50 per cent of bars and restaurants are not complying with smoke-free laws. The survey was conducted in 211 indoor places in 16 cities of 12 states. It was found that smoking was taking place in 127 out of the 211 places covered during the study period.
Level of fine particles in places where smoking was observed was found to be 32 times higher than the World Health Organisation air quality guideline for particulate matter in indoor places.
At a district-level advocacy workshop on tobacco control organised on Saturday in association with district tobacco control cell, Kanpur, and NGOs from Lucknow and New Delhi to generate awareness on health hazards due to passive smoking, the data presented a clear picture on how the norms were being flouted.
Ashish Pandey, one of the members of the NGO from New Delhi, informed that the study demonstrated gross violation of smoke-free laws in India and provided evidence that indoor smoking caused exposure to harmful levels of air pollution.
He said: “The most alarming finding of the study is that cumulative indoor pollution level in public places across India is 324 micro gram per cubic metre which is much beyond the hazardous category of (251) micro gram per cubic metre of Air Quality Index (AQI). Therefore, non-smokers exposed to smoke at these places are at greater risk of a wide range of adverse health effects including heart attack and lung cancer.”
In Lucknow, 20 public places were visited, out of which smoking was observed at 12 such places. Similarly Kerala recorded maximum number indoor places where smoking was going on without any prohibition. Notably, out of 33 such places, smoking was going on fearlessly at 29. However, in Ahmedabad (Gujarat), only three places abided by the smoke-free laws out of 20 bars and restaurants.
Moreover, at the 129 places ‘No Smoking’ signage was absent and smoking was taking place even at places where signages were present. It was also found that out of 45 non-smoking places, only at 28 places ashtrays were present. Notably, only four locations had designated smoking rooms but none of them were as per the guidelines of the smoke-free law.
According to the law which was approved in May 2008 and came into effect on October 2, 2008 for individuals not abiding by the law, a fine of Rs 200 will be issued per violation and the individual will be subject to possible criminal sanction.
The workshop, which was attended by chief medical officer (CMO) Ashok Mishra, nodal officers of the district tobacco control cell, officials from the health department and various government officials also were made aware of the fact that designated smoke room (DSR) provision of the law was being ignored. JP Sharma, executive director of the NGO, mentioned that no public policy allowing the DSRs had ever been demonstrated to eliminate the hazards of passive smoking.
He appealed to government officials to modify the smoke-free law and told them to intensify the enforcement drive in public and private sectors to implement Cigarette and Other Tobacco Prevention Act (COTPA) 2003 effectively.


Every breath you take…
October 06, 2008
Kushalrani Gulab, Hindustan Times
As a two-pack a day person who likes nothing better than a smoke (or 12) when I have a drink (or six), it may surprise you to learn that I heartily approve of the Hon’ble Minister of Health Anbumani Ramadoss’s initiative to ban smoking in all public spaces, including the pub where I hang out.
True, for a while there — specifically on October 2, Mahatma Gandhi’s happy birthday — my thoughts did veer from their usual peaceful course into channels that would have made even a Gestapo-type quiver. And true, the air around me on the same day was kind of blue — not with smoke, since that’s banned — but with words that definitely should not be heard in public spaces. But back home, when I struck my first blow for freedom (i.e. struck my first match), I found a bright side to this situation.
The bright side being this. The self-righteous Health Nazis and Fitness Fascists may have stopped me from having my fun. But they haven’t won. All they’ve done is give me the right, now, to shove aside all hypocrisy, and also talk about things as they are.
And here are things as they are. The self-righteous health nazis and fitness fascists may have the most spotless lungs in the whole world. But they’ll still die (and fat lot of use those spotless lungs will be when they’re in the crematorium).
They may eat nothing but green leafy vegetables, sprouts and other ascetic forms of herbage till they’re so full of vegetable nutrients that they can be planted in a field and left to propagate by themselves. But they’ll still die. They may run 10 km and then work out for two hours in a gym so they can announce that 40 is the new 14. It doesn’t matter. They’ll still die. Death is a fact of life, no matter what they do.
Think this is juvenile? Well, what else can I be but juvenile now that I live in a nanny state? Or rather, a nanny city since, as the Supreme Court announced the other day, the rural healthcare infrastructure has collapsed and needs a nanny itself. But that’s okay, apparently, because as far as the Hon’ble Minister of Health seems to be concerned, when it comes to the poor, let them eat gutkha.
Since, as a two-pack a day smoker, I’m in no condition to state that 40 is the new 14, I find that I’m out of practice at being juvenile. So last night I scanned my bookshelves and picked Richard Armour’s Through Darkest Adolescence: With Tongue in Cheek and Pen in Checkbook for a refresher course. It’s a hysterically funny book, covering such subjects as clothes, shopping, looks, cars, parties, sex and smoking, and though it’s somewhat outdated (it was written in the ’60s), it’s extremely helpful for people who’ve forgotten what it’s like to be a youthful rebel.
Not recommended for Health Nazis and Fitness Fascists however. The strain of trying to find anything fun may kill them.

Shrugging Off Smoking Ban
Uneven Enforcement, Public Apathy Pose Challenges to India’s Health Initiative

By Emily Wax
Washington Post Foreign Service
Tuesday, October 21, 2008; Page A11

NEW DELHI

After sashaying through the silver-and-black love beads at the entrance of a newly opened hotel bar, a group of friends piled into a booth and were surprised to find cigarettes on the menu, filling an entire page in between the mocktails and the cocktails.

Two weeks ago, India’s government announced the world’s biggest smoking ban, hoping to discourage a habit that leads to the deaths of an estimated 900,000 Indians annually. But despite several highly publicized stings in the capital, with officials doling out about 60 fines, shopkeepers, health experts and smokers say the government faces a colossal battle in implementing the diktat across this vast country of 1.1 billion people.

“People drink and they want to smoke, so why not have cigarettes on the menu?” shrugged Tikka Singh, 24, a waiter in a silver-and-black vest who proudly pointed to a sign: “Good news for Smokers: We have a separate smoking room!”

The ban applies to public parks, movie theaters, restaurants, nightclubs and offices. Although hotel bars of a certain size are permitted to designate smoking rooms, smokers at this bar trickled onto the dance floor and up to the bar, all the while ordering cigarettes off the menu and lighting up.

In the world’s largest democracy, where protesting just about anything is a national sport, previous efforts to ban anti-social behaviors have roundly failed. One problem is the sheer size of the population and a shortage of police or health officers to enforce laws. In addition, low-paid police officers and other officials simply take a bribe instead of writing out piles of paperwork in triplicate.

Last year, an attempt to ban public urination proved so fruitless that a popular newspaper started a shame campaign, publishing photos of violators in the middle of the act. It sold papers. But the men relieving themselves curbside seemed unbothered.

An attempt to ban unhygienic street food in New Delhi received a lot of news media attention. But the ban was never enforced and disappeared as quickly as a tray of fly-ridden samosas.

Scooters and motorcycles constitute a majority of the vehicles on Indian roads, and a helmet law is technically in place. But many women refuse to wear them, arguing that it messes up their hair. The law is also not enforceable for Sikhs, who wear turbans.

Last week, New Delhi’s government announced that it would start enforcing parking rules in a city where cars are often left on sidewalks or atop grassy knolls. But police protested, saying that only a handful of metal boots were available, and that they were too heavy to haul around in the hot weather.

Many Indians said they doubt the smoking ban will fare much better than similar such measures preceding it. “The anti-smoking law is actually already dead. Forget about the long run, it won’t even be effective in the short run. Everyone is smoking everywhere,” said Sai Ram, 58, a businessman. Referring to the recent increase in bombings across the country, Ram added: “The police are not able to stop the terrorists, so will they really be able to control smokers?”

The fine for violating the ban is the equivalent of $4.30, nearly double the official minimum wage in some Indian states for a day’s work.

Enforcement appears to be highly uneven throughout the country.

In New Delhi, some live-music clubs, hotels and shopping malls appear to be enforcing the rule. At the same time, many Indians have complained that smokers are still lighting up at shops and in bars in poorer neighborhoods, and in public places where police don’t often patrol.

“While traveling by bus, I told some youths to stop smoking as a ban was in place,” said Kesummal Israni, a gray-haired toyshop owner. “They told me to keep quiet and mind my own business. In the first few days, there is a great deal of fear, but slowly people become lazy and forget. They continue puffing away.”

Still, Health Minister Anbumani Ramadoss, who pushed hard for the law, said he hopes that Indians will obey and even help enforce the ban.

“I expect there will be problems, but it will be done. I appeal to the people to please do self-policing,” he said. “The aim is to discourage the smokers, to make them quit or reduce smoking. Non-smoking employees have a right to a 100 percent smoke-free atmosphere. The perils of passive smoking are equally bad.”

Ramadoss, who has been lampooned in Bollywood movies and on comedy shows for the crackdown, has called the ban the most important social and health legislation in Indian history.

A study on smoking in India released this year found that the country is in the grips of an epidemic that is likely to cause nearly a million deaths a year by 2010, including those of one in five men ages 30 to 69. There are 120 million smokers in India, half of them younger than 30, the study found.

The study said that more than half of the deaths would be among poor and illiterate people. Many working-class Indians smoke bidis, or small, cheaply made cigarettes rolled in leaves that cost the equivalent of 50 cents for a pack of 25.

Even as smoking rates decline in many countries, sales of tobacco products in India continue to rise. An estimated 102 billion cigarettes are sold there every year.

Sitting in his roadside stall, Pancham Singh said he had to remove matches and lighters from his store so customers wouldn’t light up outside his shop.

“The banning of smoking in public has directly impacted my business. Our day-to-day roti is snatched from our mouths,” he said, referring to Indian bread. “But whose role is it to stop smokers? No one has any idea. Despite the ban being in place, I myself have seen a guard, policemen and persons in a public park smoking away.”

Special correspondent Ria Sen contributed to this report.

An activist who penalises smokers
15 Oct 2008
Mumbai: It’s not just the police or civic babus who can object if you’re caught smoking in public places and make you cough up a fine.
In a first, since the ban on smoking in public places has come into force on October 2, civic officials have handed over a receipt book to an antitobacco activist, Vincent Nazareth, of voluntary organisation Crusade Against Tobacco empowering him to fine violators.
While civic officials are still not sure about how much fine has been collected by their colleagues, Nazareth , who was handed over the book on Friday, has already penalised 20 offenders and contributed Rs 4,000 to the civic kitty.
According to the Centre’s new rule, Mumbaikars are banned from smoking in public places including hotels, theatres, stadiums, stations, bus stops, offices, pubs, coffee houses , bars and discotheques. An offender can be fined Rs 200.
“Nazareth is a member of the monitoring committee and on a trial basis, I have given him a receipt book to penalise offenders,” said additional municipal commissioner Kishore Gajbhiye. Nazareth has penalised 16 people smoking at the airport and four others in hotels around Santa Cruz. “I went around with the airport police,” said Nazareth.
Two CISF personnel, who had been earlier caught smoking in a public place and had been let off, were also later fined.??


Buddhadeb defies smoking ban
March 19, 2008
Kolkata: Defying the blanket ban on smoking at the State Secretariat, West Bengal Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee on Tuesday made it clear that he would continue to puff inside his office.
“Do you want to stop me from smoking?” Mr. Bhattacharjee retorted when asked by newsmen whether he had stopped smoking following the ban. When the reporters repeated their query, the Chief Minister said, “I will continue [to smoke].”
At the initiative of the State Pollution Control Board, the PWD had recently issued a notice banning smoking inside the Secretariat. — PTI


Smoking Buddha: Is the CM setting a wrong precedent?
Sagarika Roy, 01 March 2008
YEARS BACK, when the finance minister of West Bengal Dr Asim Dasgupta proposed of enacting a ban on smoking in the state administrative headquarter Writers’ Building and other public offices, chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharya told his ‘classmate’ and cabinet member, “Do whatever you think best but take exception at least to my chamber.” Simply because Buddhadeb Bhattacharya is a chain smoker.
Now after years when the state government wants to implement the same act, the Power and Works Department (PWD) and the environment department failed to pay full honour to it. The notices, which are put up by the PWD Department on the corridors of Writers’ Building says, “Smoking and spitting on the corridors are strictly prohibited.” Why only on corridors? Why not inside the chambers of the ministers and secretaries?
PWD Minister Kshiti Goswami smiled and replied, “Who has the guts to do that when the chief minister himself smokes in his chamber?” Controversy never stops reeling behind the chief minister. The latest enquiry have focussed that lakhs of public money was spent to fix up smoke detector in each chamber of the Ministers and the senior officers. But those do not work because they were never made active. The PWD minister who was recently in news for opposing the chief minister’s move on acquiring farming land, smiled again and said, “See the smoke detector in my chamber. The green light is on because nobody is smoking and I am a non-smoker. If anybody smokes the light will turn red and an alarm would be triggered. The message will go directly to the control room. Each detector has a code number and the control room will easily find out the chamber or place.”
The minister admitted that while the smoke detector machine in his chamber is on, others might have not it functioning. “Because our chief minister is a smoker and I have no power to stop him from smoking,” he said.
The question, which created furore recently in the opposition lobby is, “Is the chief minister above the law of the land?”
His sympathisers, who want Buddhadeb to continue as chief minister for his realistic approaches towards development, however, put up the same issue by asking, “Does he want to commit suicide?
Doesn’t he know that the World Health Organisation has already cautioned that in the 20th century, smoking killed 100 million people worldwide and in 21st century the number will cross one billion?”
Smoking nowadays is seen as not only a sin but also as an offence because it does not just cause harm to individual smokers. It is more harmful for the passive smokers. This substance abuse has social ramifications.
The effect of nicotine in first time or irregular users is an increase in alertness and memory, and mild euphoria. But it disturbs metabolism and suppresses appetite. This is because nicotine, like other stimulants, increases blood sugar levels. Medical researches have warned that chronic tobacco smoking can lead to lung cancer, emphysema, and cardiovascular disease like heart attack, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, asthma and emphysema. The chances of cancer of the lung, larynx and tongue, are high. According to the Canadian Lung Association, tobacco kills more than the total number of deaths from AIDS, traffic accidents, suicide, murder, fires and accidental poisoning.
It is unbelievable that the chief minister of West Bengal does not know all these. His smoking might inspire others to break the law.
Surprisingly, the chief minister is not alone. The law is being flouted everyday by the state health minister Dr Suryakanta Mishra, who is primarily responsible for the launch of anti-smoking campaign.
The others in the row include power minister Mrinal Banerjee, water resource minister Nandagopal Bhattacharya, several other ministers, a good number of senior level officers and thousands of state government employees. In fact, while the state environment ministry has issued complete ban on selling tobacco products inside the state headquarters’ complex, it is found that individuals are selling those banned item secretly on the corridors and the ordinary staffs and visitors are smoking at their will.
Environment department has requested the PWD ministry to put up ‘No Smoking Zone Boards’ more in numbers in the government offices. Goswami, the PWD minister, said, “We can do that and will do but more important is to develop strong will power amongst the smokers. The chief minister should set an example.


‘No Smoking Zone’ in DU
January 31, 2008
NEW DELHI: Smokers beware! In an effort to make Delhi University smoke-free, police together with student volunteers will launch a drive against smoking on the campus and those caught red-handed will be penalised.?

Police with the help of Anti-Smoking Cell personnel and students will form a joint squad and move in the University area to catch smokers from February 15,” DCP Devesh Srivastav said on January 31, 2008.?
We have warned vendors over sale of cigarettes and told them tobacco products should not be sold within 100 metres of educational institutions,” he said at a press conference organised by Delhi University Students U nion (DUSU), which has started a campaign to make the campus a “No Smoking Zone”.?
Three vendors were yesterday detained by the police and fined for selling tobacco products within the campus, he said.?
DUSU president Amrita Bahri said: “We have given people 15 days to voluntarily give up smoking and the drive against smoking would be launched from February 15.”?
“We have also submitted a memorandum to Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit and the Central government urging them to pass a notification declaring Delhi University campus roads as a ‘No Smoking Zone’,” Bahri said.?
Banners and posters are being put up at various places to create awareness among students about the ill-effects of smoking, she said, adding the recent three-day signature campaign in support of the drive which has got mass support.?
Bahri said the Delhi University Student’s Parliament will discuss the issue when it will meet on February 11.
University Vice Chancellor Deepak Pental, who was also present, extended support to the drive and asked the student leaders to also arrange counselling for smokers on the campus.


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Smoke And Mirrors
17 Jan 2008

U nion health minister Anbumani Ramadoss is at it again. After training his sights on removing alcohol consumption from the country he has moved back to his pet peeve, smoking.

If Ramadoss has his way, soon homes and designated smoking areas at airports and restaurants will be the only places where one can smoke. Even the office smoking corner will become a thing of the past.

There is no doubt that smoking is injurious to health and there is a good argument for a ban on smoking in public places. But is an office a public place? In most offices, access is limited to employees and people with a legitimate reason for being there. As such, offices are outside the government’s jurisdiction.

In a country where public health care is a joke and crores of rupees are siphoned off to line the pockets of bureaucrats, politicians and middlemen, the government has no business overstepping its bounds by telling its citizens they cannot smoke even in private spaces.

So this measure is yet another attempt by the government to invade the private lives of its citizens, with the added effect of increasing points for rent collection for officials. The country will be better served if the health ministry refrains from formulating petty legislation and concentrates instead on improving the state of public health care in India.

The zeal with which the minister is going after the tobacco industry is misplaced when one considers India’s abysmal
performance in almost every health indicator.

To draw a comparison between India and China, supposedly future superpowers, India’s infant mortality rate is 46 per 1,000 live births, according to the latest United Nations’ human development report, double that of China’s.

The maternal mortality rate is even worse, with India’s rate 10 times that of China’s. Even the lifespan of the average Chinese is 10 years more than the average Indian’s.

These are serious problems that indicate how much of a shambles India’s public health system is in. Compounding the issue is rampant corruption, brought to the fore by a recent World Bank report revealing serious cases of fraud and corruption in five health sector projects, dealing with the eradication of tuberculosis and malaria and HIV/AIDS control schemes. Over $570 million are involved in the health projects financed by the Bank.

Given all this, the health minister’s preoccupation with smoking seems like nothing more than a clever piece of misdirection.

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