Bangalore teenagers welcome court ban on tobacco

BANGALORE - As more and more teenagers of India’s IT hub Bangalore are falling prey to smoking, the Karnataka High Court order barring tobacco products’ sale near schools and colleges has been welcomed by the youngsters themselves. This should help them stay away from the harmful addiction, they say.

The Karnataka High Court Monday directed the government to effectively implement the Cigarette and other Tobacco Products (Prohibition of Advertisement and Regulation of Trade and Commerce, Production, Supply and Distribution) Act, 2003 (COTPA), to prevent the sale of tobacco products near educational institutions.

The high court has asked the Bangalore Municipal Corporation and the pre-university board to file an action-taken report in six weeks time on the implementation of the COTPA.

According to the COTPA, cigarettes and other tobacco products are banned to be sold to those below 18 years and such sales are prohibited within 100 yards from institutes of learning.

“Makeshift shops nearby educational institutes, mostly colleges, are openly selling tobacco and tobacco-based products. The ban by the high court will help teenagers stay away from tobacco addiction,” Manisha D’Souza, a PU student of Mount Carmel College, told IANS.

Manisha said if tobacco products are sold openly near schools and colleges, students would easily become prey to such harmful habits.

“The ban was long overdue and we welcome it. Many of my friends have fallen prey to cigarette smoking and gutka chewing as these products are sold near our college,” said Arvind Narrain, a student of Cathedral Composite PU college.

The teaching fraternity of the city has for long been demanding a ban on sale of tobacco products near colleges.

“The order has come as a relief for us. Now, the ban should be implemented properly, so that students don’t fall prey to the addiction and many young lives will be saved now,” said Father Ambrose Pinto, principal of St. Joseph’s College here.

Echoing Father Pinto, principal of Mount Carmel College Sister M. Albina said, “The ban will go a long way in helping youngsters stay away from tobacco products. We’ll give full support to the authorities in implementing the ban.”

The court order came in the wake of a petition filed by the Mumbai-based Cancer Patients’ Aid Association, which had sought directions to implement the COPTA, based on a recent survey on tobacco addiction habits among Bangalore’s youngsters.

The survey comes up with some shocking results: Out of 19 colleges surveyed, premises of 18 had shops selling tobacco products within a radius of 100 metres.

The survey revealed that 69.55 percent of the boys and 30.40 percent of the girls in city colleges use tobacco-based products.

“The survey clearly shows how tobacco menace has been spreading fast among youngsters of Bangalore. Ban is the need of the hour to stop the spread of tobacco addiction amongst the youths,” said senior advocate Indira Jaisingh, who appeared on behalf of Cancer Patients’s Aid Association.

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