The Supreme Court of India today refused to stay the implementation of the 2008 rules banning smoking in public places across India. The Supreme Court has further gone ahead and stated that no other court in the country would pass any order against these rules.
Effective 2 October, 2008, the government of India plans to expand the prohibition on smoking in public places and workplaces in a bid to protect individuals from the hazards of second hand tobacco smoke.
Coinciding with the birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi, the government planned to introduce the no-smoking policy in all indoor establishments.
The notified law provides for prohibition on smoking in public places including hotels, restaurants, coffee houses, pubs, airport lounges, and other places visited by the general public like workplaces, shopping malls, cinema halls, educational institutions and libraries, hospitals, auditoriums, railway stations and so on.
Anti-smoking groups have welcomed the decision of the apex court. The Advocacy Forum for Tobacco Control (AFTC) said in a statement it was resolve to further strengthen its efforts to ensure that the provisions of the Indian Tobacco Control Act, 2003, are effectively enforced.
According to Dr. K. Srinath Reddy, president, Public Health Foundation of India, ''The verdict of the Supreme Court, upholding the ban on smoking in public places (including workplaces) is a welcome vindication of the right of the non-smoker to protect personal health and upholds the legitimate role of the state in enacting laws to protect public health. The implementation of these laws from October 2, 2008, will unmistakably signal that the health of the people must take precedence over the interests of the tobacco industry and the misplaced concerns of restaurant owners.''
According to Dr. PC Gupta, Director, Healis Sekhsaria Institute of Public Health, ''The tobacco industry has tried to block these laws using exactly the same arguments and strategies everywhere and India is no exception. Like in every other country, In India also, they have failed and public health has won''.
Monika Arora, director HRIDAY said in a statement, ''We congratulate the ministry of health and family welfare, government of India and the NGOs who joined hands to forcefully argue the scientific relevance of smoke- free laws and insisted that public health should prevail over all business interests. India once again has exhibited the power of Government- NGO partnership in promoting public health and protecting the vulnerable groups such as children and the non-smoking workers in the hospitality industry, from the dangers of Second Hand Smoke''.
AFTC is a coalition of non-government organisations and individuals working in the area of advocacy, awareness promotion and research related to tobacco control in India. AFTC's main goal is to advocate policies for control of tobacco, which it says, is a major public health threat that claims close to 1 million victims annually in India.