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You can’t spit on this new rule: Maharashtra Health Department imposes Rs300 as fine for spitting

Thursday, 24 July 2014 - 6:10am IST | Place: Mumbai | Agency: dna

Don't spit. For, if you do be ready to cough up Rs300 as fine.

The state health department has woken up to the ill-effects of spitting and decided to ban spitting in civic hospitals. And by the end of this year, in what could probably be a first in the country, the ban will be extended to all public places.

In a government resolution, dated July 18, 2014, the department has banned spitting in primary health centres, sub-centres, general hospitals, rural hospitals, district hospitals, and TB/leprosy hospitals.

"So far, spitting was banned in BMC-run hospitals under the Mumbai Police Act 1951. We have decided to extend the ban to all public health centres," Sujata Saunik, secretary of health department, said. "People caught spitting in these places will have to pay Rs300 as fine. Our officers at these centres will collect the fine."

Tobacco users are often the culprits, says the GR. Chewing tobacco and spitting indiscriminately spreads cancer, respiratory diseases, heart diseases and a host of other ailments. "We are in the process of bringing a comprehensive law that would ban spitting in public places by the end of this year. For now we have started with hospitals and public health centres," Saunik said.

Devika Chadda, program director of Salaam Mumbai Foundation, an NGO working on anti-tobacco campaigns, said: "We are happy that the state health department has taken a positive step but a lot more needs to be done in terms of tobacco control. Other departments and corporations need to follow suit and implement it in their jurisdiction."

Tobacco is the foremost preventable cause of death and disease in the world today, killing half of the people who use it in any form. If current trends continue, by 2030 tobacco use will kill more than 8 million people worldwide every year. The GR quotes a 2004 report on tobacco control in India that says tobacco is responsible for causing 8-9 lakh deaths annually in the country.

The person in charge of a health facility will have to display a board prominently announcing the ban and the fine it would attract if anyone spits. Posters with anti-tobacco messages should be displayed at all health facilities.

In Maharashtra, sale or consumption of gutkha and paan masala is already banned. Smoking in public places too is banned.

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