Karnataka govt urges stricter enforcement of smoking ban in pubs and bars | Bengaluru News – Times of India


BENGALURU: In the wake of concerns raised by the high power committee on tobacco control vis-à-vis the ban on smoking of cigarettes and hookahs in bars, pubs, restaurants and hotels, the government has directed departments concerned to ensure stricter enforcement.
Experts warn that smoking in pubs can not only compromise lung health of smokers themselves, but can also lead to Covid-19 superspreading events.
Dr US Vishal Rao, oncologist and member of the high power committee on tobacco control, in a letter to the chief minister last month, sought stricter implementation of the smoking ban in hotels, bars, restaurants and pubs, especially in the context of a third Covid-19 wave.
Dr Rao told TOI: “The act of smoking itself contributes to transmission through emission of aerosols and virus particles. Further, pursed-lip and forced exhalation can cause smoke to travel at least twice as far as happens during regular talking. In addition, smokers aren’t wearing masks when they’re dragging on a cigarette or vaping. This will leave smokers more vulnerable to infection.”
Smokers also often exhale more forcefully, which means the particles they push out of their lungs can travel even farther, said Dr Rao. Following the letter, N Manjunath Prasad, principal secretary to the CM, on September 22, sent out a communication addressed to the chief commissioner of BBMP, the Bengaluru police commissioner, the urban development department, the home department and the excise department, urging officials to strictly enforce the ban on smoking in restaurants, darshinis, pubs, hotels and cafe.
Randeep D, special commissioner, BBMP, confirmed receipt of the advisory from the CM’s office on COTPA (Cigarettes and other Tobacco Products Act) violations amidst the pandemic. “The narrative of Covid will make it easier for us to implement the smoking ban in such places,” Randeep said.
Dr Satyanarayana Mysore, pulmonologist, said transmission of the virus happens while sneezing, talking, coughing and deep exhalation including smoking.
“Hypothetically speaking, it can also lead to superspreading Covid-19 events,” Dr Mysore said. “Smoking is a social evil, and a health hazard. Even in post-Covid era, designated smoking areas must continue. Bars and pubs must own responsibility and follow the rules. Ideally the exhaled air in a designated smoking area must be suctioned out as it is done in airports. It should not be allowed to linger in a restricted place.”
He said besides Covid, incidences of flu are increasing. “In general, these measures apply to prevent any respiratory infection,” he said. Dr Ranganath TS, professor and head, department of community medicine, BMCRI, said a ban on smoking in public places is the need of the hour. “Smoke exhaled from a Covid-positive asymptomatic person can contain aerosols that can potentially lead to viral transmission,” he said.
Another expert working closely with the government said though there are no signs of a third wave yet, new variants may emerge, and hence it is essential to follow precautionary measures. “The worst affected are passive smokers in places like restaurants,” the expert said.
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Sagar Biswas

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