Interview with Ambumani Ramadoss

Interview with the then Union Health Minister Ambumani Ramadoss, before implementation of the smoking ban.

 What does smoking ban from October 2, 2008 mean?

Ambunai: “From October 2, smoking will not be allowed in any building including offices or hotels. You will be able to smoke only on roads.”

 

Can I smoke in office, if there is any designated smoking zone?

“No. You cannot smoke in any office, even if it is Infosys. The idea is that you cannot smoke in any building, either public or private. Even your office will be fined if they let you smoke.”

 

Can I smoke at home?

“Yes. You can, if your partner allows.”

 

Why smoke only on roads?

“The idea behind it is that one may smoke in an open space, so that the smoke puffed out by you goes out. Road is an open space. If you smoke in a closed building, the smoke remains inside and affects the health of your colleagues too.”

 

What will be the fine?

“As of now the fine is Rs 200, but I plan to increase it. The Rs 200 fine is mentioned in the Act and it will take time to be changed. The parliament will have to pass the changes in the act. If it was in the rules I would do it immediately. The fine I have proposed is Rs 1,000 for individuals. If an institution lets a person smoke, then the institution will be fines Rs 5,000 for the first time Rs, 10,000 for the second time, Rs 15,000 for the third time and so on.”

 

How will you enforce the ban?

“I want to give the power to fine to Sub Inspectors also. I am also roping in NGO’s, and will let volunteers spot offenders.”

 

Will cigarette packs have pictoral warnings?

“From December 1, all tobacco products including cigarettes and gutkha will have pictoral warnings. I have sent notices of the companies and given them three months time. To begin with the pictures will be that of a scorpion and an x-ray of a man who has lung disease. Later we will have pictures of people who are affected by tobacco and have got diseases like cancer.”

 

 Will you apply this rule to government offices also?

“Of course, I have fined three employees in my office for smoking.”

 

How will you publicise it?

“We have allotted Rs 500 Crore for creating awareness against tobacco use. We will try to rope in all Bollywood, Kollywood, Tollywood actors. Even Sharukh Khan is welcome if he has quit smoking.”

 

 

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