In a bid to check the transmission of the Wuhan Coronavirus, the Bihar government on Monday has issued an official order to fine ₹200 or imprison a person for 6 months, if found guilty of spitting tobacco in public spaces.
The official order stated that spitting tobacco on roads can endanger public health and safety and thus is an offence under the Indian Penal Code (IPC) Sections 268 (Public Nuisance) and 269 (Negligence that can lead to the spread of infection).
The Bihar Government has ordered all SPs and District Magistrates to ensure implementation of the government-sanctioned penalty on public spitting of tobacco. Given that 25.9% of the population consumes tobacco, it will be an uphill task to prohibit people from doing so.
“The ban on Khainee will not only decrease the ill impact on one’s health and society but also bring a welcome change on Bihari culture of spitting anywhere without any remorse”, a senior IAS officer was quted as saying.
Several districts in Bihar such as Vaishali, Samastipur, Champaran and Sitamarhi are the largest producers of tobacco in the State. According to the Ministry of Health, Bihar has reported 65 cases of the Chinese virus infection with 26 recoveries and 1 death.
Andhra Pradesh follows suit
The Andhra Pradesh government has also passed an order prohibiting people from spitting tobacco and pan masala in public spaces. Special Chief Secretary (Health) KS Jawahar Reddy said, “People are refrained from consuming the smokeless tobacco or chewable tobacco/non-tobacco product, sputum, etc and spitting in public places/institutions with immediate effect during the COVID epidemic.”
The order stated that the unhealthy practice was restricted in an attempt to maintain hygeine and cleanliness in both public and personal spheres.
Previously, the UP, and Haryana governments had banned the sale and distribution of Paan Masala and Gutkha too.
Pan-masala Delivery via drones
As restrictions have been imposed over non-essential goods across the country due to the nationwide Coronavirus lockdown, several people are struggling as their lives have come to a standstill. However, addicts across the country are leaving no stone unturned to procure non-essential items like Gutka, tobacco, cigarettes, and alcohol. One of the tools being used for the delivery of such items is the drone, which is one of the latest gadgets that have become popular.
Reportedly, a young man named Hiren Patel managed to fly a drone with packets of tobacco in Morbi near Rajkot during the ongoing lockdown. Patel had shared the video on TikTok. As the video went viral, the Rajkot police detained Patel and his friend Ravi, the owner of the drone. The police have initiated a probe against the two people under the Epidemic Act. Both Hiren and Ravi have been booked under IPC section 188. The drone worth Rs 25,000 has also been seized.