NEW DELHI: The next time you are standing near a bus stop or metro station in south Delhi, suppress the urge to light a cigarette as there are high chances of getting caught and being fined Rs 200. In 2018, over 10,000 people were booked for this offence in south Delhi alone. This year, 574 have ended up paying the fine till date. In Lutyens’ Delhi, 1,183 people have been challaned this year.

Since last year, more than 50,000 people have been challaned for public smoking under Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products Act (COTPA), the highest number since the law was enacted. Beat constables have been asked to patrol markets and areas near schools to nab smokers.

The drive showed that youths between the age-group of 20-30 were the biggest violators. Women constituted about 30% of the violators. Officers said 95% challans were issued to smokers and 5% to tobacco product vendors near educational institutions. In some instances, the violators were found to be repeat offenders.

PRO, DCP Madhur Verma said that cops have been asked to keep a watch on markets, metro stations and bus stops where the maximum violations are detected. “We issue fines on the spot and counsel offenders about smoking in public places. A police station is tasked each day to conduct such a drive in their area,” he added.

The police drive peaks between 6pm and 9pm, the time when many people are found violating the norms. The rules governing the sale of tobacco products are enforced strictly outside hospitals and policemen have been deployed outside schools to enforce the ban on sale of tobacco within 100 metres of the establishments. Apart from police, a team from the tobacco control cell has been keeping a check on the sale of tobacco to minors.

Police said issuing a under COTPA has proven effective. Earlier, challans were issued under “kalandra” proceedings (breach of peace or disturbing public tranquility) where the fine would be payable in the presence of a magistrate. Police sources said that the system proved less effective as violators didn’t provide ID cards or turn up to pay the fine.
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