Smoke-free work and public places law is being violated in India
By Punam Dwivedi
April 6, 2010
The author is a health and development journalist. She can be contacted at: firstname.lastname@example.org
World Health Day, 7th April 2010
Even one year after the enforcement of the Smoke free law in India, more
than 50 per cent of the places are out of compliance across India.
An air quality monitoring study was conducted by Voluntary Health
Association of India, The Uttar Pradesh Voluntary Health Association, and
several other tobacco control organizations around India. The study helped
identifying the quality of air in public places like restaurants, bars, pubs
etc. in 16 states across India.
The study revealed that the smoke- free places had significantly lower
pollution levels than places where smoking was observed. Among all 211
indoor places combined, pollution levels were 81 per cent less smoke-free
places than places where smoking was observed. The level of particle air
pollution (PM2.5) in the places with observed smoking is over 32 times
higher than the World Health Organization target air quality guideline for
PM2.5- which is pm/m3 (annual mean). In total “No Smoking” signage was
absent. Smoking was prevalent even in the places where signages were
present. Out of 24 places for which information is available at 7 places
employees were actively helping in smoking by lightning the cigarette for
The amount of smoking, a major source of particulate air pollution, was
recorded as well. All of the indoor locations sampled in the study were
required to be smoke-free by law.
This study is consistent with the findings of the World Health Organization
and the International Agency for Research on Cancer, and provides further
evidence that indoor smoking causes exposure to harmful levels of air
pollution. Employees and patrons exposed to tobacco smoke in these places
are at increased risk of a wide range of adverse health effects including
heart attack and lung cancer. Pregnant women in these environments risk
pre-term delivery and decreased fetal growth of their babies.
This study demonstrates a need to implement and increase compliance with the
smoke-free air law by ensuring that no-smoking signage is prominently placed
and respected in all enclosed public places, and restricting smoking near
building entrances or corridors. The DSR provision of the smoke-free air law
is being widely ignored. Unfortunately, no public policy allowing for DSRs
has ever been demonstrated to eliminate the hazards of SHS exposure to
employees and patrons. Therefore, the Indian smoke-free air law should be
modified to create completely smoke-free indoor spaces, with no DSRs. Only
100% smoke-free air laws have been widely accepted and proven to be
effective in creating safe environments for workers and patrons in countries
around the world.
Studies of this type have been conducted internationally to compare the air
pollution levels from secondhand smoke across the world. Countries that have
successfully passed a smoke-free air law have enjoyed cleaner air in their
indoor establishments and have gained tremendous citizen support.
Secondhand smoke exposure from cigarettes, bidis, and hookahs can be harmful
to both smokers and nonsmokers. To protect individuals from the effects of
secondhand smoke, the Indian government enacted a smoke-free air law
restricting smoking in public places as of October 2, 2008.
As per the Indian smoke-free law, smoking is not allowed in enclosed public
places. However, places serving 30 or more persons may allow smoking as long
as designated smoking rooms (DSRs) are present. The law prescribes strict
guidelines on how these DSRs should be structured so that smoke from these
DSRs does not escape to the rest of the establishment. It does not allow
food or drink to be served in these DSRs with the intent of protecting
workers and patrons from secondhand smoke.
According to this law, persons responsible for public places (i.e.,
managers, owners, proprietors, and supervisors) are expected to comply with
the law and may be fined for not enforcing smoke-free activity. Their
- Preventing and/or stopping persons from smoking inside or near
entranceways/exits of their establishment, unless inside a sealed DSR.
- Displaying signage on smoking restrictions throughout their
- Ensuring that ashtrays, matches, and lighters are removed/not made
available in their establishments
Posted on: April 06, 2010 01:00 PM IST