In a blatant violation of the anti-smoking ban in public places, students and even professors are openly lighting up across the campus; the administration and police are mute spectators
Delhi University is everyone's favorite; definitely credit also goes to its sprawling puff-happy campus.
Already declared a smoke free zone a year back, the campus is not ready to 'chuck the butt'. Students smoke openly here and even the staff and professors don't hesitate to indulge in it.
The university profusely advertised the idea to educate students and teachers on the dangers of smoking. Teams consisting of teachers and students were formed in every college to advocate the cause.
All the efforts, however, to clear smoke in DU have gone in vain. Despite posters campaigning against smoking and paintings against the usage of tobacco across the campus, students and professors can be seen buying cigarettes and smoking them at various stalls in the vicinity.
As the ban has little effect, many cigarette stalls are flourishing in and around the campus. And if the shopkeepers are to be believed, local police are lending them a helping hand.
"Every month we pay a fixed amount to the beat policemen and carry out our business smoothly.
After all, we are making some good money," said a shopkeeper, doing brisk business near faculty of law, north campus, on the condition of anonymity.
Gurmeet Singh, proctor, DU, said, "We are taking smoking on the campus as a serious offence and the offenders will definitely be punished.
This year a close watch will be kept on the students through the CCTV cameras, which have been installed across the campus."
"Most of the colleges are also planning to install the cameras on their campus," he said.
Admitting that the campus has hardly been affected by the smoking ban, Hansraj College Principal, Dr SR Arora said, "It is not uncommon to see students having a puff on the campus. It is not possible to stop them until and unless cigarette stalls are removed from the campus."
Agreed, Dr P C Jain, SRCC Principal. "Despite the strict guidelines in a majority of colleges, most admit that stopping students from smoking is difficult."
"The need of the hour is to be strict and take punitive measures. We also need to educate the students and make them aware," he said.
The onus of collecting fine from the law-breakers relies on the anti-smoking cell and Delhi Police is supposed to give assistance for the purpose. But irony is they are mute spectators as people are blatantly violating the law.
The anti-smoking cell comes under Delhi government Health services and was established in 1997, one year after Delhi Anti-smoking Act was passed.
According to the rules anyone found smoking is fined Rs.200. Thereafter, a fine of Rs 500 is to be slapped on the person if the offence is repeated.
Up in smoke
Anti-tobacco Act: Consumption of tobacco products by minors may be banned in the country and under the Indian Tobacco Control Act, even the sale of these harmful items within a 100-metre radius of any educational institute is not allowed.
Ban on smoking in public places: The Centre revised the definition of 'public space' under the Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products (Prohibition of Advertisement and Regulation of Trade and Commerce, Production, Supply and Distribution) Act, 2003.
From October 2, 2008, public space came to mean work places, shopping malls, cinema halls, hotels (with or without lodging), boarding houses, guest houses, refreshment rooms, restaurants, banquet halls, discotheques, canteens, coffee houses, pubs, bars and airport lounges.