Words: Dipu Shaw and Sumiran Preet Kaur

Anuj and other members of Ibtida, Hindu College’s theatre group, are practicing for their forthcoming play. He puffs from a cigarette every time he gets a break from his role in the play. His friend who is sitting and watching the performance shares the fag when Anuj is acting out his part. Both the friends are unmindful of the board less than 20 meters away that says “Delhi University is a no smoking zone now”.

The campaigns to make university campuses a smoke free zone may be a novel initiative of the Health Ministry, but is it effective in combating smoking?

Mayank, another student of the university feels that making the entire north campus a smoke free zone is not the way out. “There should be smoking zones too, where we can go and smoke our cigarettes.” The members of the theatre group argue the same point when questioned about the cigarettes in their hands.

Who’s concerned?

Government of India has launched National Tobacco Control Programme (NTCP) in the 11th five-year plan to implement anti-tobacco laws. Delhi is one of the 9 States to be covered under NTCP. But the Government’s steps of putting up “No smoking zone” boards in the college campuses hardly acts as a deterrent for smokers.

Even the police constables stationed around the colleges are not concerned about catching the smokers. They say it is not their job. In fact, they themselves do not mind smoking their beedis right in front of the college.

Sale continues

Sale of tobacco products may be officially banned in the campus. But if you are a regular smoker, you know where to go for your need. The small tea shops around the corner take care of it. Others, who are unaware of the “facilities” keep their stocks full well in advance. Whether they are the hostellers of Hindu college or other students of the university, they know the means to meet their end.