11 March 2011
By Sanjeev Shivadekar
To ensure that teachers fulfill their duty as role models for their students, especially when it comes to the anti–tobacco movement, the home department is planning stringent action against teachers found with cigarettes or other tobacco products on school or college premises.
"I will be writing a letter to the law and judiciary department to examine whether teachers can be prosecuted for possessing tobacco products on the premises of educational institutions," said minister of state for home Satej Patil, who also holds the food and drug administration (FDA) portfolio.
The idea was mooted by an NGO in a meeting on the anti–tobacco drive in the state. "Teachers play a key role in the life of students. If teachers consume tobacco products at educational institutes, it adversely impacts students. We demanded in the meeting that such teachers be punished," said Varsha Vidya Vilas, general secretary, Nashabandhi Mandal, which works in the state against tobacco consumption.
Earlier, Patil had initiated a drive where school and college principals were authorized to levy fines on paanbidi shops located within 100 metres of educational campuses.
"The drive will not be successful unless teachers themselves refrain from consuming tobacco products, at least on the campus. But taking action against errant teachers is not possible as of now as there is no such provision in law," Vilas said. "Hence, the government should make rules enabling the administration to punish errant teachers."
BEST to make premises tobacco–free zones'
The Brihanmumbai Electric Supply & Transport Undertaking (BEST) plans to make its premises smoke–free. It will organize special camps from Friday to sensitize drivers, conductors and other staff on the ill–effects of tobacco.
A recent survey within the undertaking revealed that drivers who smoked cigarettes or consumed tobacco in other forms had respiratory ailments, besides other illnesses. "We want to appeal to these drivers to refrain from the use of tobacco. We will also ensure that passengers waiting for buses at depots and stops do not smoke," said a senior BEST official. "All our employees will be asked to take part in the antitobacco campaign."
BEST has tied up with the NGO Smokefree Mumbai, which will paste colourful ‘No Smoking’ stickers in English and Marathi in buses, bus stops and depots, and all administrative centres of BEST. The stickers will be released on Friday by BEST general manager Om Prakash Gupta and BEST committee chairperson Sanjay Potnis at a function at the Colaba bus depot.