New Delhi [India], May 15 (ANI): In a bid to contain the spread of COVID-19 outbreak in the country, Union Health Minister Dr Harsh Vardhan has directed all States/UTs to create widespread awareness regarding the ill-effect of spitting and use of smokeless tobacco at public places.
He has urged all States/UTs to strictly implement the directions of the Union Home Ministry which instructs that "spitting at public places shall be punishable with fine as may be prescribed by the State/UT local authority and consumption of liquor, pan, gutkha, tobacco, etc., at public places is not allowed."
Amid the coronavirus scare, Dr Vardhan has expressed his concern to all the State governments about the smokeless tobacco and users who have a tendency to spit at public places and therefore, increase health risks, especially those of spreading infectious and contagious diseases like COVID-19, tuberculosis, swine flu, encephalitis, etc.
In a letter to all the State Health Ministers, Dr Vardhan said that the use of smokeless tobacco also creates an unhygienic environment, which further spreads the diseases.
The large gathering at the retail outlets where smokeless tobacco products are sold also poses the risk of spread of COVID-19, he said, pointing out that tobacco use is a major threat to the public health globally.
He appreciated the efforts made by Jharkhand and Rajasthan governments to have completely banned the sale of tobacco products and spitting at public areas.
Citing the Indian Council of Medical Research's (ICMR) request to the general public not to consume and spit smokeless tobacco in public, Dr Vardhan said: "By banning spitting at public places, the States and UTs can also help in achieving not only Swachh Bharat but also Swasth Bharat (Clean India and Healthy India)."
Further, the guidelines dated May 1, issued by Home Ministry under the National Disaster Management Act 2005, stipulate that "spitting at public places shall be punishable with fine as may be prescribed by the State/UT local authority and consumption of liquor, pan, gutkha, tobacco, etc., at public places is not allowed." (ANI)