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Tobacco-free police stations? So wants Delhi High Court

Wednesday June 13, 2012 08:53:48 AM, IANS

New Delhi: To curb the sale of tobacco around educational institutions, the Delhi High Court has asked the police commissioner to set up a precedent and consider making all police stations tobacco-free.

A division bench of Justice A.K. Sikri and Justice Rajiv Sahai Endlaw said such measures would strengthen the commitment of the police force to implementing various provisions of the Control of Tobacco Products Act, (COTPA) 2003.

"The Commissioner of Police to also consider making all police stations in Delhi tobacco-free. Such a measure is expected to strengthen the commitment of the police force to implementation of various provisions of the COTPA 2003 and in promoting a tobacco-free environment," the bench said.

The court further directed the police commissioner to take measures to sensitise the police force about the issue.

"The Commissioner of Police to also undertake the necessary measures for sensitisation of the police force, of the harms of consumption of tobacco and tobacco products," the bench opined while passing the order last month.

The court's directions came on a public interest litigation filed by World Lung Foundation South Asia, an NGO, seeking curbs on the sale of tobacco products within 100 yards of educational institutions.

The court also directed the police to carry out comprehensive inspections from time to time or at least every three months to detect presence of tobacco product outlets within a radius of 100 yards of any educational institution in Delhi.

Seeking a quarterly report on the issue, the court asked the police to remove tobacco outlets if they find any and take necessary steps against the violators.

"If (police) finds any such outlet, immediately ensure closure/removal thereof and to take action in accordance with law against the violators. A quarterly report be submitted to this court."

The NGO had told the court that as per a survey it conducted Jan 24, there was not a single tobacco product selling outlet within the prohibited distance from any educational institution in Delhi.

The NGO filing the petition in 2010 had alleged that despite the Control of Tobacco Products Act (COTPA), 2003, tobacco was being sold within the prohibited area from the premises where the schools are situated.

The petition had stated: "Due to the existence of the said shops, the minor, young and adolescent children fall prey to the temptation of smoking and suffer from numerous diseases."

In support of its petition, the NGO also referred to a survey carried out by it throughout Delhi and found that there are more than 323 outlets where the tobacco is being sold, affecting students of 1,023 recognised schools.

The foundation had alleged that activities were going on under the nose of police officers.






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