Guwahati, April, 30: Consumers’ Legal Protection Forum (CLPF), Assam demand Govt. of Assam to ban spitting in public places and prohibit the consumption or sale of Pan, Gutka, Tobacco.
The Forum submitted a letter to Jishnu Barua, Chief Secretary, Govt. of Assam today and request him to ban spitting and prohibit the use of smoke and smokeless tobacco products in public places in the State of Assam as early under the appropriate law for the greater interest of the public in view of the present pandemic situation. In 2020, during the COVID19 pandemic, the Government of Assam banned spitting in public places and declared it as a punishable offense with a fine.
The government also prohibited the consumption and sale of Paan, Gutka, Tobacco, etc. in public places. In his letter, submitted to Chief Secretary, Govt. of Assam, Advocate Ajoy Hazarika, Secretary, Consumers’ Legal Protection Forum, Assam stated, “Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) had appealed the general public to refrain from consuming the smokeless tobacco product and spitting in a public place during the COVID epidemic. According to WHO advisory ‘Chewing smokeless tobacco (khaini, zarda, gutka, paan and paan masala with tobacco) and areca nut (supari) increase saliva production and enhance the urge to spit repeatedly. Spitting in public places could increase the spread of COVID -19’.
In the information note on COVID-19 and NCDs prepared by WHO says that Smokers are likely to be more vulnerable to COVID-19 as the act of smoking means that fingers (and possibly contaminated cigarettes) are in contact with lips which increases the possibility of transmission of the virus from hand to mouth. Smokers may also already have lung disease or reduced lung capacity which would greatly increase the risk of serious illness. Smoking products such as water pipes often involve the sharing of mouthpieces and hoses, which could facilitate the transmission of COVID-19 in communal and social settings.
Conditions that increase oxygen needs or reduces the ability of the body to use it properly will put patients at higher risk of the consequences of bilateral viral pneumonia. The World Health Organization says in its FAQs that smoking is one thing people should not do during the Coronavirus outbreak. Since the lungs and respiratory tract in smokers are already compromised to various extents, they are more prone to be severely infected by SARS CoV-2 which primarily attacks the respiratory system in human beings, and in severe cases leads to symptoms such as difficulty in breathing. In his letter, Union Home Secretary Dated 29th, 2021 to the Chief Secretaries of all States direct to strictly followed ‘The National Directives for COVID-19 Management’ where it is clearly mentioned that ‘spitting in public places will be punishable with fine. Based on this, State Govt. should issue a ban order on the use of Tobacco products in public places and spitting.
Dr. Amal Chandra Kataki, Director, Dr. B. Borooah Cancer Institute, Guwahati also appeal to Govt. of Assam and said “the whole world is fighting against COVID-19 and the States are taking significant preventive measures to curb coronavirus impact. Govt. should ban selling all forms of tobacco products as it can indirectly spread the infection by spitting and smoking by some infected tobacco users”.