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Passive smoking victim cries hoarse over lacunae in law

Passive smoking victim cries hoarse over lacunae in law
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Cancer survivor and health activist Nalini Satyanarayana writes to Prime Minister Modi and Health Minister Harsh Vardhan drawing their attention towards the sufferings of non-smokers

Bengaluru: On the 12 anniversary of the Prohibition of Smoking in Public Places Rules, 2008, Nalini Satyanarayana, a passive smoking victim and health activist, has written letters to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan and Chief Minister Yediyurappa drawing their attention towards the sufferings of non-smokers due to passive smoking and demanded their intervention to revise the existing provision of Designated Smoking Area (DSA) rules as they are more harm than use to public, particularly non-smokers.

It may be recalled that Smoke Free Rules 2008 came into force on October 2, 2008. Nalini, who was diagnosed with throat cancer 10 years ago, has penned her sufferings as a cancer victim. While exploring the causes, of her cancer, the doctor treating her told her that it could be because of exposure to second-hand smoking (passive smoking) by her husband at their house.

Pointing out that both the Centre and the State governments have taken many measures in tobacco control laws like larger health warnings, ban on e-cigarettes, implementation of National Tobacco Control Programme and so on, she lamented that some of the laws had become redundant and ineffective because of the lack of stringent enforcement.

Explaining her point, Nalini wrote in the letter, "Around 17% of exposure to passive smoking happens in eateries, specifically hotels, restaurants, bars and restaurants, pubs and clubs. The Cigarette and Other Tobacco Products Act (COTPA) permits smoking in restaurants and hotels with more than 30 seating capacity. The Designated Smoking Area (DSA) should be set, with strict guidelines in the best interest of the health of non-smokers. However, the enforcing officials are permitted to set up DSA in all the facilities which are non-compliant to COTPA."

"This dangerous step is risking the lives of thousands of non-smokers including children, women and old aged people by exposing them to the second-hand smoke. Further, the employees in establishments with faulty DSA are at high risk of not only cancer but other lung and heart diseases, as they are exposed to the smoke involuntarily," she said.

On behalf of all those people who have either lost their voice or crippled because of cancer particularly due to passive smoking, Nalini through her letters requests the concerned authorities to change laws to not permit smoking in any premises, and make it completely smoke-free in the best interest of the public health.

"Exposure to second-hand smoke causes death, disease and disability among smokers and non-smokers, including children. People with compromised respiratory and cardiovascular systems are at higher risk for severe Covid-19 infection. Nalini, who had suffered extensively because of the second hand smoking exposure and lost her voice, has written to the Prime Minister and the Union Health Minister to look into revising the existing provision of DSA rules as they are of more harm than of use to public, particularly non-smokers," said Dr Vijayalakshmi Balekundri, cardiologist and a Member of Cardiologist Association of India.

Dr Vijayalakshmi said a comprehensive smoke-free law that prohibits DSAs will save lives and immediately improve the public health of Indians.

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