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Message  alexandra le Mar 28 Oct 2008 - 18:58

Shrugging Off Smoking Ban
Uneven Enforcement, Public Apathy Pose Challenges to India's Health Initiative

By Emily Wax
Washington Post Foreign Service
Tuesday, October 21, 2008; Page A11


After sashaying through the silver-and-black love beads at the entrance of a newly opened hotel bar, a group of friends piled into a booth and were surprised to find cigarettes on the menu, filling an entire page in between the mocktails and the cocktails.

Two weeks ago, India's government announced the world's biggest smoking ban, hoping to discourage a habit that leads to the deaths of an estimated 900,000 Indians annually. But despite several highly publicized stings in the capital, with officials doling out about 60 fines, shopkeepers, health experts and smokers say the government faces a colossal battle in implementing the diktat across this vast country of 1.1 billion people.

"People drink and they want to smoke, so why not have cigarettes on the menu?" shrugged Tikka Singh, 24, a waiter in a silver-and-black vest who proudly pointed to a sign: "Good news for Smokers: We have a separate smoking room!"

The ban applies to public parks, movie theaters, restaurants, nightclubs and offices. Although hotel bars of a certain size are permitted to designate smoking rooms, smokers at this bar trickled onto the dance floor and up to the bar, all the while ordering cigarettes off the menu and lighting up.

In the world's largest democracy, where protesting just about anything is a national sport, previous efforts to ban anti-social behaviors have roundly failed. One problem is the sheer size of the population and a shortage of police or health officers to enforce laws. In addition, low-paid police officers and other officials simply take a bribe instead of writing out piles of paperwork in triplicate.

Last year, an attempt to ban public urination proved so fruitless that a popular newspaper started a shame campaign, publishing photos of violators in the middle of the act. It sold papers. But the men relieving themselves curbside seemed unbothered.

An attempt to ban unhygienic street food in New Delhi received a lot of news media attention. But the ban was never enforced and disappeared as quickly as a tray of fly-ridden samosas.

Scooters and motorcycles constitute a majority of the vehicles on Indian roads, and a helmet law is technically in place. But many women refuse to wear them, arguing that it messes up their hair. The law is also not enforceable for Sikhs, who wear turbans.

Last week, New Delhi's government announced that it would start enforcing parking rules in a city where cars are often left on sidewalks or atop grassy knolls. But police protested, saying that only a handful of metal boots were available, and that they were too heavy to haul around in the hot weather.

Many Indians said they doubt the smoking ban will fare much better than similar such measures preceding it. "The anti-smoking law is actually already dead. Forget about the long run, it won't even be effective in the short run. Everyone is smoking everywhere," said Sai Ram, 58, a businessman. Referring to the recent increase in bombings across the country, Ram added: "The police are not able to stop the terrorists, so will they really be able to control smokers?"

The fine for violating the ban is the equivalent of $4.30, nearly double the official minimum wage in some Indian states for a day's work.

Enforcement appears to be highly uneven throughout the country.

In New Delhi, some live-music clubs, hotels and shopping malls appear to be enforcing the rule. At the same time, many Indians have complained that smokers are still lighting up at shops and in bars in poorer neighborhoods, and in public places where police don't often patrol.

"While traveling by bus, I told some youths to stop smoking as a ban was in place," said Kesummal Israni, a gray-haired toyshop owner. "They told me to keep quiet and mind my own business. In the first few days, there is a great deal of fear, but slowly people become lazy and forget. They continue puffing away."

Still, Health Minister Anbumani Ramadoss, who pushed hard for the law, said he hopes that Indians will obey and even help enforce the ban.

"I expect there will be problems, but it will be done. I appeal to the people to please do self-policing," he said. "The aim is to discourage the smokers, to make them quit or reduce smoking. Non-smoking employees have a right to a 100 percent smoke-free atmosphere. The perils of passive smoking are equally bad."

Ramadoss, who has been lampooned in Bollywood movies and on comedy shows for the crackdown, has called the ban the most important social and health legislation in Indian history.

A study on smoking in India released this year found that the country is in the grips of an epidemic that is likely to cause nearly a million deaths a year by 2010, including those of one in five men ages 30 to 69. There are 120 million smokers in India, half of them younger than 30, the study found.

The study said that more than half of the deaths would be among poor and illiterate people. Many working-class Indians smoke bidis, or small, cheaply made cigarettes rolled in leaves that cost the equivalent of 50 cents for a pack of 25.

Even as smoking rates decline in many countries, sales of tobacco products in India continue to rise. An estimated 102 billion cigarettes are sold there every year.

Sitting in his roadside stall, Pancham Singh said he had to remove matches and lighters from his store so customers wouldn't light up outside his shop.

"The banning of smoking in public has directly impacted my business. Our day-to-day roti is snatched from our mouths," he said, referring to Indian bread. "But whose role is it to stop smokers? No one has any idea. Despite the ban being in place, I myself have seen a guard, policemen and persons in a public park smoking away."

On va vraiment finir par etre les seuls derniers vieux cons.


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Re: des nouvelles de l'Inde

Message  je hais les cookies le Ven 18 Sep 2009 - 19:17

"anti-social behaviors ", c'est le même vocabulaire qui était utilisé en URSS
je hais les cookies

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