New Delhi: Union health minister A. Ramadoss is going all out to ensure that the ban on smoking in public spaces is effectively enforced. The ministry of health and family welfare has rolled out a heavy-duty advertising campaign across media platforms to help create awareness of the ban and inform people on how to report offenders.
Defiant stance: A 2 October picture of men smoking at a bus stand in Bhopal flouting the Union government ban on smoking in public places. PTI
The ban, part of the Prohibition of Smoking in Public Places Rules, 2008, took effect on 2 October after the Supreme Court upheld it. Smokers are prohibited from lighting up in restaurants, offices, railway waiting rooms, buses, and airports, among other places.
“There is still a doubt that smoking has been banned everywhere and people have been complaining, so we feel there is a need for a strong campaign to reach out and tell people what this law is about and more importantly how it will benefit them,” said a senior medical officer at the directorate general of health services. The government has budgeted an additional Rs84 crore to publicize the smoking ban starting 30 September, after having spent Rs18 crore to spread information on the “ill effects of tobacco use” this year, said the medical officer, who spoke on condition of anonymity.
The ministry has tied up with state-owned broadcaster Prasar Bharati as well as nearly 20 private channels to air television commercials developed by the World Lung Foundation informing viewers about the smoking ban. According to the foundation’s website, the “smokefree” campaign focuses on the harm done by passive smoking and the effort to enforce anti-smoking rules.
The campaign is currently in Hindi, English and Tamil and will be expanded to 12 regional languages in the coming days.
Multi Screen Media Pvt. Ltd, earlier known as Sony Entertainment Television, said the campaign on the smoking ban will air across its network from 7 October to 25 October.
“The very high-decibel government advertising campaign on the smoking ban has been launched across Star’s channels 1 October and will continue for the whole month,” said Kevin Vaz, executive vice-president for advertising sales atStar India Pvt. Ltd.
The campaign also extends to national and regional newspapers and radio stations, billboards and signages in front of public places where smoking is prohibited. The health ministry is also organizing events in schools and colleges to spread the word about the ban.
According to the senior official from the ministry, the promotional initiatives around the ban started as early as May with a series of letters to various government ministries and their departments, meetings with hoteliers and restaurant owners, and publication of notices in newspapers.