While the regulations pertaining to production, supply and distribution of tobacco products besides the ban on smoking in public places under Control of Tobacco Products Act (COTPA) came into effect in 2008, Nagaland was yet to designate and notify enforcement officers under the Act.
However, following pursuance by National Tobacco Control Program (NTCP) state unit officials, directorate of health & family welfare, Nagaland government may soon issue a notification for the enforcement of the Act.
This was disclosed by additional director state nodal officer National Tobacco Control Program (NTCP) Dr. N. Savino to the participants of a one-day training programme for enforcement officers on tobacco control laws held at Bookmarc, Dimapur Tuesday.
Dr. Savino however opined that the enforcement was not going to be easy in Nagaland. He said certain sections of the Act dealing with ban on smoking in public places (section 4), ban on sale of tobacco products within 100 yards of education institutions (section 6) and depiction of specified health warnings on tobacco products (section 7) would be difficult to enforce.
He pointed out problems were likely to crop up while dealing with shopkeepers, landowners and even educational institutions with regard to jurisdictions as well as the application of the sections of COTPA.
This was particularly true for districts like Kohima and Dimapur where there were many shops selling tobacco products in the vicinity of educational institutions.
Earlier, deputy CMO and District Nodal officer (DTCC), National Tobacco Control Program (NTCP) Dr. Ritu Thurr gave a presentation on the harmful effects of tobacco use.
According to Global Adult Tobacco Survey (GATS 2009-10), Nagaland with 57% ranked second to Mizoram with 67% in tobacco consumption in the Northeast. The two states were followed by Tripura (55%), Meghalaya (55%) and Manipur (54%).
Dr. Ritu Thurr pointed out tobacco was brought to Goa, India by the Portuguese in 17th century but the state has been listed as the lowest consumer of tobacco products today.
Chairman of People in Need Foundation Joe Ngamkhuchung while delivering the keynote address spoke on the steps to be followed when one was determined to give up the consumption of tobacco products.
He said there was no such thing as a little step when one made efforts to give up tobacco related habits picked up early on from various sources including peer group pressures.
Anticipating the government notification, challans and receipt books were distributed to the participants for enforcing COTPA.
It may be mentioned that violation of COTPA sections would attract fines between Rs. 200 to Rs. 5000 besides imprisonment as penalties.
The training programme was attended by officers representing various departments like district sports office (DSO), food and civil supplies, excise, PHED, geology & mining, labour, tourism, employment exchange, child development, BSNL, SDEO, police, treasuries & account, NST, NIDC, forest department, social welfare, PWD, Airports Authority of India, Dimapur, health, education and justice & law. The training was also attended by Naga Council Dimapur president.