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Election Commission bans smoking inside polling stations

Wednesday, 9 April 2014 - 10:07pm IST | Place: Mumbai | Agency: PTI

The Election Commission today issued instructions to all its Returning Officers in Delhi to ensure no smoking inside polling stations.

The instructions were issued by the office of Delhi Chief Electoral Officer, making it clear that smoking inside polling stations is prohibited.

"See that neither you nor your polling officers nor anybody else in the polling station including the polling agents smoke inside the polling station," the order said.

1.27 crore voters are eligible to cast their ballots in tomorrow's polling in 11,763 booths for the seven Lok Sabha seats in Delhi.

Similar instructions have also been issued by Chief Electoral officers in Assam, Bihar, Jammu and Kashmir, Jharkhand, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan, declaring all polling stations as no-smoking zones.

Section (4) of the Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products (Prohibition of Advertisement and Regulation of Trade and Commerce Production, Supply and Distribution) Act COTPA, 2003 prohibits smoking in all public places.

"We have met all the key officials in the officer of CEO, Delhi, to ensure that polling stations in Delhi be made smoke-free and requested that necessary instruction/direction be issued to all officials concerned to put complete ban on smoking inside all polling booths," Executive Director of Voluntary Health Association of India, Bhavna Mukhopadhyay said.

VHAI made the request keeping in view the dangers of passive smoking on women voters.

The Election Commission earlier issued instructions in its handbook to all Presiding Officers to ensure complete ban on smoking inside all polling booths throughout the country.
As per Global Adult Tobacco Survey (GATS) India 2009-10, released by Ministry of Health & Family Welfare (MoHFW), 24.3 per cent population of Delhi is using tobacco product. Delhi has 9.9 per cent cigarette smokers, 8.7 per cent bidi smokers and 10.5 per cent smokeless tobacco users.

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