Schools and colleges to check tobacco sale

Tobacco usage by students not only creates health hazards but also develops criminal instincts in them. The Delhi high court said this on Wednesday, asking all educational institutions in the capital to check the sale of tobacco in their vicinity.

The division bench of chief justice Dipak Misra and Justice Sanjiv Khanna said passive smoking is as dangerous as active smoking and can cause serious health hazards among children. The court also asked Delhi University to issue directions to its colleges to appoint nodal officers to ensure no tobacco outlet is found within a 100-yard radius of the campuses. HC made it clear that the order extends to professional colleges, too.

The court directed the commissioner of police to comply with its earlier order to initiate a departmental inquiry against officers concerned if any shop was found selling tobacco products near any school or college.

“The nodal officer may intimate area SHOs and concerned DCPs if anyone sells tobacco in violation of the Control of Tobacco Products Act (COTPA) and the police to take action,” said the bench.

“We would like the commissioner of police to take action in compliance with the provisions of the Act in larger public interest. The commissioner shall collect action taken report from the task force once a week and may depute an officer to analyze the reports. If required, more task forces may be constituted,” the bench said.

To create awareness among sellers about the law, and to educate students about the diseases caused by tobacco consumption, the court directed the chief secretary of Delhi, in consultation with the ministry of health and family welfare to give wider publicity in print and electronic media.

The HC directions came after an NGO, World Lung Foundation, petitioned the court, alleging that COTPA was not implemented in true spirit. It told the bench that it had recently conducted a survey in 1,023 of 5,106 schools and 28 of 323 colleges under the Delhi University and found outlets selling tobacco near them.

The Act covers prohibition of advertisement and regulation of trade and commerce, production, supply and distribution of tobacco products, the NGO said.


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