Implementing ambitious legislation without the support of all the states isn’t always the most fabulous idea — especially in India. Case in point? The Anti-Smoking laws (officially in place since October 2, 2008), forbidding smoking in public. Really difficult to enforce in such a large country, especially when the larger states like West Bengal and Maharashtra ignore the Health Ministry’s repeated reminders (India.com). Thankfully, four major states have aggressively begun the campaign, after realizing how much money they can make when fining these offenders. The problem, however, still remains: this thing isn’t going to work unless all the states are active participants. A major flaw in the Health Ministry’s plans is that they placed the responsibility on the the state health departments, many of which are dragging their feet on even implementing the basic structure of the program. If the Indian federal government wants to see results, it must take a more forceful stance.
In the last week, NGOs set up cases against many of the biggest Bollywood smokers and luckily for them, the Goa bench of the Bombay High Court has accepted the case (Times of India). Maybe this will bring a bit of visibility to the cases, although the actors will probably get away with only a slap on the wrist.
This year’s Anti-Smoking laws are a follow-up to 2004′s Anti-Smoking Act (yes, that is the link to the parliament bill) that prohibited any advertising of tobacco products and the sale of cigarettes to children. (Offenders were charged a pathetic Rs.200 ($4.50) ones.)