It was a huge argument allowed to run riot, while the ban over smoking in the public place was coming towards its implementation date, 2nd October, 2008. We could read and hear a lot spoken about it; all sorts of arguments supporting and disregarding it.
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It’s more than a week since the imposing of the ban and all the ‘chimneys’ have been relocated from office balconies, roof-tops, walking areas around the building and parking lots; to the roadsides, middle and not so middle of the road.
I was surprised to notice that while the ban imposed would mean a lot of discomfort to the smoking populace, they have reacted positively and most of them come out of the office cubicles to smoke. Crossing through any IT park, one can notice a bunch of people standing on the road. That’s the power of strongly imposed and well acknowledged notices.
It’s definitely hard for people to change their habits and avoid those nice balconies or a coffee shop provided with a metallic ash tray or a pot filled with sand or smoking by your car in the parking lot, but the survey conducted by the Health department concluded that at any point of time, 82% of people want to quit smoking and a similar proportion is in support of banning smoking in public too. Also not surprisingly, India is not alone in this endeavour and joins a smokeless club that includes more than 80 countries, which have a ban on smoking in public areas and some other areas to varying degrees.
Normally we impose a lot of rules but do not follow a methodology of implementing them. We cut ‘challans’ when people jump red lights, but do not have mechanisms to change the people’s mindsets about breaking traffic rules. They are penalized for doing something wrong, but there is no support system to suppress such actions in the society. The irony in any of the systems of the country has been that we teach kids what ‘not to do’ rather than teaching them ‘what to do’. The Health Ministry came up with a list of ‘Don’ts’ for smoking bans but people have been really anticipating a ‘To do’ list instead.
I am sure the IT and ITes lobby in particular, and all others too, have welcomed the motion and I learnt from many of my friends, that they got strong mailers from the management about the ban being implemented and employees being asked to refrain from smoking in and around the office area. All would be happier if the Govt. comes up with a motion of banning smoking in public and supporting steps.
– It can send a requisition to all the private and public organizations to create separate smoking zones.
– Appreciating usage of those public smoking zones.
– Creating awareness among the common man about harms of passive smoking and educating more people to avoid a smoke in public or use public smoking zones which could be erected at the bus stands, railway stations, cinema halls and other places of interest.
This is an excellent step by the government and we the people have to show courage on our part now, to create a better atmosphere around us.