In order to contain the spread of the coronavirus infection in the state, the Maharashtra government has decided to take strict action against those found smoking, spitting, or blowing their nose in public spaces.
The state government recently issued a notification saying offenders will face up to six months in jail and that repeat offenders will face up to two years in jail.
Maharashtra’s Public Health Department has invoked the provisions of the Epidemic Disease Act, 1897, and the Indian Penal Code (IPC) to penalise the offenders. This decision was taken due to fears of spitting in public areas, which is likely to further spread COVID-19. Since the state has the highest number of active COVID-19 cases in the country, the state government has decided to enforce the strict legislation against spitting and smoking in public.
State Public Health Minister Rajesh Tope said despite strict announcements regarding these rules, people continued to neglect them. He added that violation of this rule will also attract fines under existing laws. The offenders are being fined ₹1,000 to ₹5,000 for the first three offences of spitting or smoking in public, following provisions under the Bombay Police Act.
The Maharashtra government had already prohibited spitting in public under the Bombay Police Act. After the Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products Act (COPTA), 2003, the state also prohibited smoking and imposed a ban on the distribution, storage, manufacture, transport, and the sale of tobacco, and scented supari in 2013.