The Andhra Pradesh government has issued orders prohibiting the public from using and spitting tobacco, paan masala and other such chewable products in public places, in order to contain the COVID-19 disease. Earlier on Wednesday, the Telangana government had issued similar orders.
As per the order issued by Special Chief Secretary (Health) KS Jawahar Reddy, people in the state are hereby â€śrefrained from consuming the smokeless tobacco or chewable tobacco/non-tobacco product, sputum etc and spitting in public places/institutions with immediate effect during the Covid epidemic.â€ť Any violations will be punishable under the IPC and CrPC, the order said.
The decision was taken following a letter from the Under Secretary, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (Tobacco Control Division) dated April 10. The letter spoke of the Indian Council for Medical Research (ICMR)â€™s appeal to the public to refrain from consuming and spitting smokeless tobacco products in public during the pandemic.
The appeal mentioned that chewing smokeless tobacco products, paan-masala, and areca nuts â€śincreases the production of saliva followed by a very strong urge to spit,â€ť and spitting in public places could worsen the spread of COVID-19.
Further, the Under Secretary had informed state governments that they have the authority to issue preventive measures to prohibit spitting of chewable products in public, under The Epidemic Diseases Act ,1897, The Disaster Management Act, 2005 and various provisions of the IPC (Indian Penal Code) and CrPC (Code of Criminal Procedure).
â€śIt is observed that the COVID-19 Pandemic has brought to the fore the importance of hygiene and cleanliness in both personal as well as public sphere and that it is of utmost need to impose restrictions on unhealthy practices that may potentially lead to spread of such viruses and other infections,â€ť the order said.
The state government on Sunday also announced that it will distribute 16 crore masks to the entire population of the state, at three masks per person.
As of Monday morning, Andhra Pradesh recorded 432 positive cases, of which 12 people had recovered, and 7 people had died.