Thiruvananthapuram, Nov 27 – Hotel industry in Kerala is for making lives of Keralites all the more healthy by making hotels and restaurants tobacco smoke free. Major hotels and restaurants associations of the state, at a recent meeting here, have agreed to protect employees and customers from dangers of second-hand smoke by initiating necessary measures soon.
Key office bearers and senior representatives of hotel associations including Kerala Hotels and Restaurants Association (KHRA); South India Hotels and Restaurants Association (SIHRA) and South Kerala Hoteliers Forum (SKHF) are also united in their commitment to put up mandated signages and in preventing customers and employees from smoking in their premises.
Shri G Sudhiesh Kumar, State President of the 20,000-member-strong KHRA said, “The well-being of our patrons including ladies and children, and employees is paramount to the hotel industry. Tobacco smoke with over 250 harmful chemicals has been proven to cause lung cancers, heart attacks and stroke besides severe asthma and other respiratory illnesses in children. We will take immediate measures to make our restaurants and hotels smoke free and I urge our members to implement the provisions laid out by the law.”
As per the country’s tobacco control legislation enacted in 2003 – COTPA – hotels, restaurants, coffee bars, pubs and bars fall under the ambit of public places. 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 language of the specified size.
The law mandates that such boards have to be placed at all entrances and other conspicuous places inside the building. If there is more than one floor, the signboards have to be set up at each floor including the staircase and entrance to the lift at each floor. 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 Shri D Chandrasenan Nair, a veteran leader of the hotel industry. Shri TC Paul, President, SKHF added, “Making hotels and restaurants smoke free will be our contribution to make Kerala a healthier state. We will make use of our forums to fight the public health menace of tobacco use and second-hand smoke. ”
Shri Suresh M Pillai, Vice President, SIHRA (Kerala) said, “We are very much aware of the dangers of second-hand smoke and will make all efforts to see that our hotels and restaurants are kept free of the harmful chemicals emanated from tobacco smoke. I will take up the matter of making smoke-free hotels and restaurants a compulsory parameter for star classification in the next meeting.”
Designated smoking areas or spaces that meet specified architectural guidelines are permitted in hotels with 30 rooms or more and in restaurants, coffee houses, pubs, and bars with seating capacity of 30 or more persons. However, the World Health Organisation has statedthat there is “no safe level of exposure to tobacco smoke” and creating 100 per cent smoke-free environments is the only way to protect people from the harmful effects of second-hand tobacco smoke.
As per the Global Adult Tobacco Survey (GATS) 2009 of the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, the highest — 9.2 per cent — of adults above 15 years, were exposed to second-hand smoking in restaurants.