Smoking is not harmful just to smokers but also to those around them. There is said to be no safe level of exposure even to secondhand smoke, as even brief exposure can cause immediate harm. This is the reason why smoking is prohibited in most public spaces.
However, the number of people abiding by this set of rules is often within single digits. To ensure that one individual's decision to not abide by the rules should not affect others, the Karnataka government launched the 'Stop Tobacco' app.
Ensuring Public Health
People in Karnataka would no longer have to be victims of passive smoking in public places. Anyone who feels like their right to health is being violated by smokers in public spaces can now address the issue through the 'Stop Tobacco' app. The app, unveiled by the State Tobacco Control Cell (STCC) on February 28, can currently be installed only on an Android phone. After installing the app, the person can click pictures of the violator and upload them on the app.
The GPS-enabled app would instantly pin and store the location of the violation, and a squad would then take appropriate action on the complaint within six working days. Citizens can also utilise the app to lodge complaints about the sale of tobacco to minors, advertisement of tobacco products, and loose sale of cigarettes without the mandatory health warning.
Necessary Legal Provisions
Regarding the action that will be taken against the violators, State Health Commissioner Randeep said, "Unlike traffic violations, where the violator is tracked using a number plate, we cannot do the same here."
The six-day period is to rightly identify violators and slap fines on the responsible person. He conveyed that the department would place special focus on shopkeepers, tea/coffee shops, bakeries and similar spaces where such violations are a common sight.
Youth experiment with tobacco as they are easily available in small and big stores. While curbing the practice entirely is not an option they are currently looking into, the department expects responsible shopkeepers to advise and warn violators from smoking in public. A report by New Indian Express added that if the department gets repeated complaints from the same shop, they would be undertaking the necessary legal provisions to shut the store.
So far, with the efforts of the STCC, more than 20 villages in Karnataka have become tobacco-free with zero sales or consumption of tobacco. Earlier, the health department also launched a social media campaign- 'Step Towards Tobacco-Free Generation,' through which they aimed to ban the sale of tobacco to all those born in and after 2007.
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