Smoking Ban fails to deter smokers in India
Smoking was banned in India at public places under a new legislation yesterday but it hardly had any impact on the streets. Indians puffed on the streets and defied the ban. They freely puffed away the ban in air at playgrounds, railway stations, sidewalks cafes and even hospitals.
While the smoking ban in public places came into effect on Thursday, it did not deter most smokers for puffing away in public. People were seen smoking in parks, market areas and other places which come under the law's ambit. However wary of being caught, some smokers were seen looking for corners to smoke in.
There were few police officers to get the offenders in line. The few constables spotted at Palika Bazaar and adjoining areas didn't have the authority to challan the smokers.
"We don't have the authority to issue challans. Only an officer of sub-inspector rank can do so. Today is Gandhi Jayanti, so they are not around. But they will be on duty from tomorrow," said constable Sohan Lal Sharma.
It was only in the evening that the police challaned a few smokers caught smoking at the park near Palika Bazaar.
Some regular smokers saw the ban as just added stress in their lives. Vijay Bhakuni, 27, assistant manager in a clothing firm, said, "I don't think the ban will have any effect on my smoking habit. Now, instead of smoking outside, I will smoke at home or in some corner where no one can catch me."
The worst-affected seemed to be the local cigarettes sellers, who said the ban was going to impact their business the most. "There has been a 50% decrease in sale of cigarettes today. Few people came to buy cigarettes and those who did were skeptical to smoke in public. They either chose a dingy corner or preferred to smoke inside their cars," said Arvind, a pan shop owner in Connaught Place.
Owners of restaurants with separate smoking zones also lamented the new rules."The ban has affected business but it's too early to say anything. At present, we have not made any arrangements for a separate smoking room but our customers can go upstairs to smoke," said S L Sharma, manager, The Embassy.
However, Radhey Shyam, owner of Gupta Pan Palace, said the ban did not effect his business on the first day. "Regular customers are still pouring in. It's only because of Gandhi Jayanti that few people have stepped out of their homes. But yes, those who are smoking are aware of the ban and are not smoking openly," he said.
S K Jain, a chartered accountant seen chewing paan outside a cigarette kiosk, highlighted the greener side of the ban. "It is human nature. Whenever you put a ban on something, people will do the same thing again and again. So, the question of decrease in sales will not arise. It will only increase,'' said Jain.