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Tobacco Act violations: Health department eyes world record for fines

JAIPUR: The state may soon have the distinction of being the first in the world for booking the maximum number of people for violating the Cigarette And Other Tobacco Products Act (COTPA) in a single day.

On February 28, health department officials penalized 176,693 people for violating the Act, which may have paved the way for state’s entry into world records.

The last day of February is being observed as the No Tobacco Day.

Anyone who was found smoking in public places or selling tobacco products within a radius of 100 yards of any educational institution were penalised by health officials.

In Churu alone, 32,002 people were found violating COTPA, whereas in Jhalawar, 29,762 persons were challaned for flouting the norms. In Jaipur too, 22,009 persons were penalised for violating COTPA, health minister Kalicharan Saraf said.

The department took help from the police, rural development and Panchayati Raj department, education department along with transport and district administrations of respective districts to penalize those violating COTPA.

“The drive was organised to create awareness. We have never aimed at increasing revenue. According to COTPA, we can collect up to Rs 200 for violations. But, we collected even Re 1 as a token fine from many COTPA violators. Our aim was to create awareness of various provisions of COTPA,” Narendra Singh, state consultant, National Tobacco Control Programme (NTCP), said.

Officials are now collecting and compiling evidences of the mass drive to send the same to the Guinness Book of World Records and Limca Book of Records.

Officials said that in 2016 they had fined over 5,600 people in Jhunjhunu, which was the world record for penalizing COTPA violators in a single day.

The health department conducted a campaign from February 13 against tobacco consumption which continued till February 28. During this period, they organised rallies and street plays to create awareness against tobacco use.

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