New Delhi: Even as the country’s apex court prepares to hear on Tuesday a challenge to the Union government’s ban on smoking in public places that came into effect from 2 October, the results of a mid-October survey by a voluntary organization and students from city schools showed restaurants in the city violating the ban.
At least 150 students from 30 schools participated in the campaign organized by Hriday-Shan, a Delhi-based voluntary health organization, and covered 68 restaurants, bars, pubs and food courts in the city.
Puffing away: A file photo of a person smoking in Mumbai. A survey in New Delhi found that many of the 68 restaurants, bars, pubs and food courts were violating the smoking ban. Adeel Halim / Bloomberg
“The methodology was simple. Making an unobtrusive entry, our job was to fill out proformas that outlined clear evaluation parameters,” says Swati Parmar, programme manager, Hriday-Shan.
The law stipulates that restaurants and hotels with seating capacity of less than 30 persons are to be completely smoke-free and those with seating capacity of 30 or more are to have physically segregated and designated smoking and non-smoking areas. It also says No-Smoking signs have to be placed strategically outside and inside the premises and complaint books have to be readily available with staff designated to promptly address complaints.
The survey found that only 28% of the establishments had the signs either at the entrance or at any other conspicuous place inside the premises. And almost 98% did not mention the name of the person to whom complaints were to be directed. In at least 10% of the restaurants, people were found lighting up in non-smoking areas.
Bahar Shoogufan, a final year student at Sri Ram College of Commerce, said: “(The) low level of compliance is largely due to lack of correct information with owners and managers.”
The ban on smoking has been challenged by cigarette firm ITC Ltd, industry group Federation of Hotel and Restaurant Association of India, and an individual.