"Police has challaned 521 people and collected Rs 46,100 as fine from them across 12 districts of the valley for violating COTPA during October," a police spokesman said.     

The state has 12 percent cigarette smokers – almost double the nation-wide prevalence of 5.7 percent - and 3.8 percent bidi smokers and eight per cent smokeless tobacco users, according to a survey released by Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.

The state police chief has been asked to collate the violations for strengthening institutionalisation of the mechanism and to forward the details on monthly basis to the Superintendents of Police of the districts.     

The COTPA, enacted in 2003 and applicable to the entire country, was mainly to discourage the consumption of cigarettes and other tobacco products by imposing progressive restrictions and to protect non-smokers from passive smoking.
    
"It is heartening to see that police came forward even after the devastating floods and worked towards protecting the health of people in the state by supporting COTPA enforcement in districts.

"It is good the SPs of these districts has taken lead and streamlined the regular reporting on the compliance of COTPA in monthly crime reporting," Executive Director, Voluntary Health Association of India, Bhavna Mukhopadhyay said.  

Prohibition on smoking in public spaces, prohibition on all forms of direct or indirect advertisement, promotion and sponsorship of tobacco products, prohibition on sale of tobacco products to minors and within a radius of 100 yards of educational institutions, and mandatory depiction of specified health warnings on all tobacco products are the major provisions of COTPA.

As per section 12 of the act, any police officer, not below the rank of the Sub Inspector, can take action against these violations.
    
The Global Adult Tobacco Survey released by Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare conveys that 26.6 percent population of Jammu and Kashmir is using tobacco products in one or the other of its forms.

The survey also highlighted that the highest proportion of adults (67.9 percent) exposed to tobacco smoke in offices are in Jammu and Kashmir and the lowest (15.4 percent) are in
Chandigarh.

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