India Readies Smoking Ban; Unruly Public Shrugs

Prohibition carries $5 penalty in country with average income of $1K
By Harry Kimball,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 30, 2008 5:45 PM CDT
Bollywood actor Shah Rukh Khan smokes at a polo match in New Delhi, India.   (AP Photo)
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(Newser) – India is about to institute a ban on smoking in public places, including bars, restaurants, hotels and hospitals, the Wall Street Journal reports. The ban, which begins Thursday, is being greeted warmly by health officials, with skepticism by smokers on the ground. “Such rules are made and broken every day," one said. “The ban will have no effect on me.”

The Indian public regularly scoffs at laws impinging on their freedom, routinely disobeying traffic signals and urinating in public. The government has attached a $5 fine to the smoking ban, and hopes to raise it to $25. In a country where per-capita income averages $1,000, that could make a difference, but smokers were nonchalant. “I'll smoke at home, particularly in my bathroom,” one said.