KL NEWS NETWORK
Welcoming the implementation of Juvenile Justice Act of 2015, which has come into force from 15th January this year, various NGOs working in the health sector Friday demanded strict implementation of the act that bars sale of tobacco products to minors.
The act prescribes strict punishment to anyone who gives or causes to give tobacco products to children. The act prescribes rigorous imprisonment for a term which may extend to seven years and a fine which may extend up to rupees one lakh.
Interestingly, South-East Asia Tobacco Control Alliance, Action on Smoking and Health Foundation from Thailand, International Union against TB and Lung Diseases, Aga Khan University and Hospital, Karachi, Pakistan, Health Institute Association Turkey and Voluntary Health Association of India had written to Maneka Gandhi Union Minister for Women & Child Development appreciating for her effort that is already being seen as a game changer in the national and international tobacco control community.
“With this act, India has become the only nation in the entire world to impose such a tough penalty for facilitating supply of tobacco and its allied products to minors,” a VHAI spokesperson said in a statement this afternoon.
E Ulysses Dorotheo, FCTC Program Director of South-East Asia Tobacco Control Alliance (SEATCA) sighted the amendment as an important and unprecedented development to protect and save the young people from tobacco’s terrible addiction. She termed the act as a shining example for other countries to follow.
Javaid A Khan, Chair National Alliance for Tobacco Control at the Aga Khan University in Pakistan said, “taking a good example from India our organization is requesting Government of Pakistan to do the same in this country as well.”
Dr Pankaj Chaturvedi, Professor and Surgeon at Tata Memorial Hospital, Mumbai said, “as per Global Adult tobacco Survey, the age of initiation of tobacco habits in India is 17 years. As per Global Youth Tobacco survey, up to 20% of children in India are users of Tobacco. More than 5500 children /Adolescents start tobacco consumption daily. The India Global Youth Tobacco Survey (GYTS) a school-based survey of students in grades 8, 9 and 10 conducted in 2009 highlighted 14.6% of students currently use any form of tobacco. One in five students live in homes where others smoke, one-quarter of the students have at least one parent who smokes. Since there is no safe level of tobacco usage, consumer safety from tobacco products is best served by preventing its usage altogether”.
Notably, the COTPA law has various sections which protects children. Section 4 of COTPA Act bars smoking in public places, protecting children from second hand smoke. Section 6 (a & b) prohibit sale of tobacco products to person below the age of 18 years, and in places within 100 yards radius from the outer boundary of education Institutes. However, the punishments under COTPA are weak and this is overcome by the JJ Act where the offence may lead to imprisonment of 7 years.
Dr Mira Aghi, a pioneer in tobacco control said, “this Act recognizes the harmful effects of tobacco on human health and at the same time focuses on the tobacco industry’s sinister design to specifically target vulnerable children as their new consumers. We see this act as a path breaking amendment to curb the growing menace of tobacco and we applaud it.”
In J&K, 26.6 percent adults consume tobacco in one form or the other. More than 66% of students have expressed desired to quit and have tried in past year, it is therefore important to target the young population, create awareness and enforce the law, the statement informed.