Kerala tightens anti-smoking rules on public transport
Trivandrum - Transport Commissioner R Sreelekha has written to officers manning operations to take action against instances of smoking on public conveyances, bus depots and bus stands.
Smoking in public conveyances in Kerala can be a costly affair for the smokers with the state's Transport Department authorising conductors and ticket collectors to fine them.
Though Kerala is the first state in India to ban smoking in public places, it could not be implemented effectively due to lack of effective enforcement. Only the police had the power to book the offenders.
The state government hopes that it will be able to keep the public transport services free of tobacco by granting power to the officials manning the services. They will be able to impose a fine up to Rs200 on those smoking in public conveyance under the Cigarette and Other Tobacco Products Act (COPTA), 2003,
Transport Commissioner R Sreelekha has written to officers manning operations to take action against instances of smoking on public conveyances, bus depots and bus stands. She has also asked her officers to ensure that all public vehicles prominently display 'No Smoking' signages.
Similarly, directions have been issued to ensure that there are no direct and indirect advertisements, sponsorship of tobacco products on public conveyances, as mandated by Section 5 of COTPA.
Transport Commissioner has also ordered that offences under COTPA - violations of Section 4 and 5 - will form part of the monthly checking report of the Department. These directions are binding on all public conveyances including autos, taxis, and private buses.
The move is in accordance with World Health Organisation's action plan to protect adequately the public from dangers of second-hand smoke. The WHO says only 100 per cent smoke-free environments will ensure this.
Sreelekha said that the government was determined to create a healthy and safe public transport in Kerala and are in the process of creating sustainable and transparent systems of implementation.
The government-run Kerala State Road Transport Corporation (KSRTC) has strictly prohibited smoking and sale of tobacco products in all their buses, bus stations, and offices. All unit heads have been directed to ensure that no tobacco products are sold in any stall or canteen inside KSRTC depots and 'No Smoking Area' boards placed in all KSRTC bus stations.
All serviceable boats under the State Water Transport Department in Kerala have displayed 'No Smoking' signages as a measure of warning and protecting passengers from the ills of tobacco smoke. Special squads have been formed to inspect any cases of smoking onboard.