On Friday, Union health minister Harsh Vardhan urged all states and union territories to ban the sale of tobacco products and spitting in public in order to combat the rapid spread of the deadly COVID-19.
His appeal came after two states-- Rajasthan and Jharkhand issued orders in this regard to prevent the spread of the coronavirus infection.
In a letter to all state health ministers, Vardhan said that chewing tobacco users have an unhygienic habit of spitting out in public places, therefore increasing chances of spreading contagious diseases like Covid-19, tuberculosis, swine flu, encephalitis and others.
“Use of smokeless tobacco also creates an unhygienic environment which further spreads the diseases. Large gatherings at the retail outlets where smokeless tobacco products are sold, also pose the risk of spread of COVID,” PTI quoted him as saying.
In the letter dated May 11, Vardhan also warned that the use of tobacco is a major threat to public health globally. He also mentioned the Indian Council of Medical Research’s (ICMR) appeal to the public not to consume and spit smokeless tobacco products in public places.
Spitting in open public places could lead to the rapid spread of the highly infectious coronavirus and may put others at great risk. “By banning spitting in public places, states and UTs can help in achieving not only Swachh Bharat but also Swasth Bharat (Clean India and Healthy India),” he said.
Vardhan also mentioned the May 1 guidelines issued by the Union Home Ministry under the National Disaster Management Act, 2005, which stipulate that “spitting in public places shall be punishable with fine as may be prescribed by the state/UT local authority and consumption of liquor, pan, gutkha, tobacco etc in public places is not allowed”.