Spitting on streets in Mumbai could cost people dear, as the state cabinet on Tuesday approved an innovative anti-spitting law that combines monetary punishment with mandatory community service.
The first time a citizen is caught spitting, he or she will have to shell out Rs 1,000 as fine and take a day out to do social work at a public hospital or a government office. Second-time offenders will have to pay Rs 3,000 plus three-day community service, and repeat offenders Rs 5,000 plus five-day service, respectively. The amount collected in fines will be used only for healthcare services.
“We have discussed the issue in the cabinet meeting and decided to form a committee led by health minister Dr Deepak Sawant. Their report will be submitted within a month,” said chief minister Devendra Fadnavis at a press conference after the cabinet meeting on Tuesday morning.
Dr Sawant, who has been working on the draft for months, said the law will be in place within the next six months. The anti-spitting bill will now have to cleared in both the state legislature houses. “The offender should do community service in a government hospital or office, like take on sweeping for a day or more. Designated officers will be appointed in every establishment,” he added.
The law is likely to act as a precursor to banning chewing tobacco in public. People who chew tobacco cannot avoid spitting because tobacco stimulates the salivary glands to produce more saliva. “The harms of passive smoking led to the ban on smoking in public places. Now, the recognition about how spitting can spread infectious diseases will lead to a ban on chewing tobacco at public places,” said cancer specialist and anti-tobacco activist Dr Pankaj Chaturvedi from Tata Memorial Hospital.
Dr A Bamne, executive health officer of BMC, said an anti-spitting law would bring down transmission of all airborne diseases. “It will also affect the tobacco-chewing habit as people will be restrained from spitting out tobacco. This is a move towards a healthy lifestyle,” said Dr Bamne.
A four-minister committee has been set up to work out the bill’s modalities. “The committee will give a report to the government at the end of monsoon session. It will farame rules to be followed,” he said.
(Originally published in The Times of India)