Since 2017, the Karnataka state capital Bengaluru has worked to reduce smoking in public places across the city, with support from the Partnership for Healthy Cities.
Local enforcement plays a significant part in ensuring that national law, the Cigarette and Other Tobacco Products Act (COTPA), is able to deliver its intended benefits on the ground, by ensuring that citizens comply with the laws in practice. A major part of Bengaluru’s effort has been its focus on increasing city-level compliance with national and state-level smoke-free regulation – a critical component of local action in tobacco control. Between 2017 and 2023, Bengaluru’s authorities – coordinated by the municipality’s “tobacco control cell” – conducted 102 enforcement drives with 36 enforcement officer training sessions in a bid to significantly increase capacity for enforcing the regulation. Alongside these drives, Bengaluru’s authorities also bolstered existing legislation by removing illegal designated smoking areas within the city, towards creating new 100% smoke-free spaces.
To complement the emphasis on enforcement capacity, the city also prioritized citizen awareness. New “No Smoking” signages were displayed in public places, clearly indicating that smoking is not permitted and that those violating the law would be fined. A series of public communication campaigns was also run, covering both the risks of tobacco use and the effects of second-hand smoke and thereby reinforcing the need for 100% smoke-free environments.
A local survey demonstrated that Bengaluru’s focused efforts resulted in a nearly 27% reduction of smoking in public places (down from a rate of 18% in 2017 to 13% in 2021) and a 225% increase in the display of “No Smoking” signages in public venues (from a rate of 23% in 2017 to 75% in 2021). In March 2023, Bengaluru received an international award from the Partnership for Healthy Cities, in recognition of its efforts to reduce smoking in public places and improve compliance with existing smoke-free laws. As a city, Bengaluru will continue to work towards becoming 100% smoke-free by 2025.
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To mark the publication of the WHO report, Mr. Tushar Girinath, Chief Commissioner, Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike, Bengaluru said: "Today, Bengaluru stands as a shining example in WHO's report for its exceptional implementation of smoke-free laws aimed at protecting our citizens from the harmful effects of tobacco smoke. Our commitment to eradicating passive smoking and creating a healthier, cleaner environment for all is unwavering. By strictly enforcing these smoke-free regulations, we have taken a significant stride towards safeguarding public health, especially the most vulnerable, from the dangers of second-hand smoke. This achievement wouldn't have been possible without the cooperation and support of our residents, businesses, and various stakeholders. As we continue this path, we envision a smoke-free Bengaluru that sets a precedent for other cities, inspiring a global movement towards a healthier and smoke-free world."
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Below, watch an overview of the winners of the 2023 Partnership for Healthy Cities Awards: