New Delhi: Today is World No Tobacco Day, but in India it seems that the government is least bothered about rising number deaths due to tobacco consumption in different forms.
Challans for smoking and drinking alcohol are very uncommon in India. Not only this, the government also don't consider taking rigorous action against the tobacco manufacturing companies. It may be because of the loopholes while enacting and implementing a law for the concerned cause.
Delhi Police often claims that it has issued hundreds of challans, especially on the occasion of some festivity, for violation of the rules. But is it really discharging its duty by merely issuing challans on a few occasions only? The answer is clearly NO.
An RTI reply by Delhi Police stated that in the last three years, in New Delhi area of the city, the police issued only 2 challans for smoking in public areas and 83 challans for alcohol drinking publically.
Law practitioner, Kush Kalara had filed an RTI with the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare seeking information about number of challans issued for smoking and drinking in last 3 years in the national capital. The same was forwarded by the Ministry of Health to the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA). The MHA stated that all state information is not maintained by it and it directed Delhi Police to address the query.
At present, Delhi Police functions in 14 ranges. The Delhi Police, till date, has provided data of only two police stations (New Delhi police station and Ashok Vihar police station) and North District.
The RTI reply from the New Delhi police station reads: In 2012: 0 challan for smoking and 5 challan for drinking. In 2013: 2 challan for smoking and 49 challan for drinking. In 2014: 0 challan for smoking and 27 challan for drinking. In 2015 (till March 30): 0 challan for smoking and 2 challan for drinking.
The RTI reply from the Ashok Vihar police station: As per report of all SHOs, total numbers of 821 challan for drinking and 3 challan for smoking were issued during the period mentioned in the RTI application.
The RTI reply by PIO, North District stated that 990 challans of drinking were issued during the last three years in North District, Delhi and in respect of smoking in public place may be treated 'Nil'.
Alcohol consumption in India has increased by a worrying 55% over the last two decades (between 1992 and 2012). India's per capita consumption of alcohol is the third highest in the world after the Russian Federation and Estonia, a report by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) has revealed. Another worrying trend in India is that the average age of initiation to alcohol use has gone down from 28 years during the 1980s to 17 years in 2007.
The number of alcohol-related deaths increased steeply in last few years. The National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) data also revealed the same. During the period ranging from 2008 to 2012, this figure saw a steep rise of 27 per cent from the level of 4308 to 5478. A massive increase of 21 per cent was alone witnessed in 2012 when death figure zoomed to 5478 as against 4547 cases registered in 2011.
Cancer is infamous for the deaths it causes, second to only heart attacks, both of which are attributable to tobacco. According to the latest Global Adult Tobacco Survey (GATS), India has the second largest number of tobacco users, second to China, with 197 million men and 78 million women. Also, India is third largest producer of tobacco products in the world. The World Health Organization (WHO) says that India is home to 12 per cent of the world's smokers. Approximately 9,00,000 people die every year in India due to smoking as of 2009.