A decade on, Kerala hotels to become smoke free

Thiruvananthapuram, Nov 27 : Despite smoking being banned in public places a decade ago, Kerala's hotel industry is only now aiming to help people lead more healthy lives by making hotels and restaurants smoke free.

In a joint statement issued here Wednesday by the hotels and restaurants associations of the state, the groups agreed to protect employees and guests from the dangers of passive smoking by initiating necessary measures soon.

As per the Control of Tobacco Products Act (COTPA) - the tobacco control legislation enacted in 2003 - hotels, restaurants, coffee bars, pubs and bars fall under the ambit of public places.

Representatives of hotel associations, including Kerala Hotels and Restaurants Association (KHRA), South India Hotels and Restaurants Association (SIHRA) and South Kerala Hoteliers Forum (SKHF) said they are committed to put up signs and prevent guests and employees from smoking in their premises.

G. Sudhiesh Kumar, state president of the 20,000-member-strong KHRA, said the hotel industry was concerned about the well-being of its patrons, including women and children.

"We will take immediate measures to make our restaurants and hotels smoke free. I urge our members to implement the provisions laid out by the law," said Kumar.

Hotel and restaurant owners, proprietors, managers and supervisors have to display signboards stating "No Smoking Area - Smoking Here is an Offence" in English or regional languages.

Owners are also required to ensure no ashtrays, matches, lighters or other things designed to facilitate smoking are provided.

"As a state, we take pride in our coming together to bring about a larger good. The hotel industry, which has taken a lead in many aspects of social welfare, will also demonstrate our commitment to public health by ensuring tobacco smoke free member institutions," said D. Chandrasenan Nair, a veteran leader of the hotel industry.

SKHF president T.C. Paul said making hotels and restaurants smoke free will be the associations' contribution to make Kerala a healthier state.

"We will make use of our forums to fight the public health menace of tobacco use," said Paul.

SIHRA (Kerala) vice president Suresh M. Pillai said they will take up the matter of making smoke-free hotels and restaurants a compulsory parameter for star classification in the next meeting.

The World Health Organisation says there is "no safe level of exposure to tobacco smoke" and creating 100 percent smoke-free environments is the only way to protect people.

As per the Global Adult Tobacco Survey (GATS) 2009 of the union ministry of health and family welfare, 9.2 percent of adults above 15 years were exposed to passive smoking in restaurants.

--IANS (Posted on 27-11-2013)

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