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Experts call to make public places smoke-free

Experts call to make public places smoke-free
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Experts call to make public places smoke-free

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Health experts have urged authorities to ensure that public places are 100 percent smoke-free

Health experts have urged authorities to ensure that public places are 100 percent smoke-free. They have demanded that the designated smoking areas in public places like hotels and bars are either set up as per rule or are completely removed so that non-smokers are prevented from involuntary 'passive smoking'. They point out that passive smoking increases the risk of lung cancer by 30 percent.

The demand is twined with the World Cancer Day.

Cancer cases are likely to go up to 15.7 lakhs by 2025 from 13.9 lakhs in 2020, as per the National Cancer Registry Programme Report 2020, released by The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) and National Centre for Disease Informatics and Research, Bengaluru. As per the Global Adult Tobacco Survey - 2 (GATS-2), 14 per cent of adults were exposed to second-hand smoke at restaurants in Karnataka.

As per Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike's (BBMP) rule, public places like hotels, bars, pubs, restaurants and clubs should be 'smoke-free'. Establishments with more than 30 seats can set up a designated smoking area (DSA) in their premises by getting 'no objection certificate' (NOC) from the BBMP. The rule mandates that the DSA should not be at the entry or exit of the establishment and it is fitted with automated doors. DSA should be physically separated, have an exhaust system and no service shall be provided inside it.

"Establishments are flouting all the rules and are allowing smoking. Bengaluru has more than 20,000 restaurants and employs nearly 3 lakh people. For this number, there are hardly any establishments that have set up a DSA as per rule. Non-smokers especially children, women and the elderly are directly affected by passive smoking at public places and this has to be stopped immediately by strict implementation of DSAs" said S J Chander, public health advocate and Secretary of Consortium for Tobacco Free Karnataka (CFTFK).

He added that CFTFK has written a letter (dated Feb 3, 2021) to BBMP Commissioner Mr Manjunath Prasad demanding strict implementation of DSA.

Renowned oncologist and member of High Power Committee, Karnataka, Dr Vishal Rao said "The total direct and indirect cost of diseases attributable to tobacco use was a staggering Rs 1,82,000 crore which is nearly 1.8 percent of India's GDP. People should realize that passive smoking is equal to smoking and has all the carcinogens that a smoker inhales. Exposure to passive smoking increases the chances of lung cancer by 30 percent and coronary heart disease by 25 percent".

Pointing out that most of the hotels and restaurants are violating the DSA rules, Dr Vishal Rao insisted that the concept of DSAs should be removed as they are 'unscientific'.

He also opined that the Union government in the 'budget' missed a golden opportunity to hike taxes on tobacco so that tobacco products would have been made 'unaffordable' for many on one side and helped mop up additional revenue.

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