Smoking ban goes up in smoke
Ritesh Ranjan, @royret
Chennai: A penal offence under the rule of law, smoking near schools and colleges goes unabated in the city.
The Madras High Court in its recent hearing had ordered a blanket ban on selling tobacco products near educational institutions. The very fact that smoking continues unhindered in public places and near educational institutions shows that what a High Court’s order means to law-enforcing authorities.
Shops located near schools have, on paper, stopped selling tobacco products, but the reality remains anybody’s guess. “As soon as colleges or classes get over, all these shops compete against each other in selling tobacco products,” said a final year student of a city college.
The police and authorities are aware of this anomaly but the practice continues. It is generally seen that as soon as colleges begin their classes, all shops near them go for a temporary ban on selling the tobacco products, but as soon as the classes are over for the day, its smoke everywhere, said a student.
Much has been said about there being a confusion in the interpretation of the High Court’s order. Does the order imply that the sale of tobacco products should be prohibited only during college hours or should be prohibited completely.
Civil society activists whom Infodia spoke to said that the court should soon intervene in the matter and clarify its order. If this is not done, the law on anti-smoking remains in two specific realms – up in the air and down in the trash bin.