Telangana bans spitting in public
Hyderabad: Spitting in public places has been banned in Telangana state with immediate effect in wake of potential of this habit by some to contribute to spread of Coronavirus.
The state government on Wednesday, issued orders to this affect, saying ‘habit of public spitting poses a serious threat to the spread of such infections’.
The order says that spitting of paan, any chewable tobacco or non-tobacco products, and sputum in public places and institutions is banned.
The government said that Covid-19 pandemic has brought to fore importance of hygiene and cleanliness in both personal as well as public spheres. It is of utmost need to impose restrictions on unhealthy practices that may spread diseases.
Spitting, chewing tobacco, smoking cigarettes, cigars, bidis and hookah are identified as potential hazards at normal times, but during the Coronavirus emergency, they can also facilitate spread of Covid-19.
The oral system of the body is active during these acts.
There is a higher likelihood of large droplets coming out of a person, which will allow the harmful virus to spread. Since Covid-19 spreads through large droplets, these activities in public have now come into focus.
Smokeless tobacco products like gutkha, zarda, khaini, paan masala and areca nut increases production of saliva, followed by a strong urge to spit. Spitting in public places is dangerous during these times, as it can enable the virus to spread faster and more easily.
Dr A. Srikath, secretary, Indian Dental Association, Deccan branch, said, ‘Spit in public places, if it comes in contact with paper, hands or other objects, will allow the virus to spread. Just as we have educated people about hand wash, hygiene and wearing of masks, it is important to spread message about spit too. Those who want to spit cannot do so on corners of roads, outside public toilets, trees or market areas. They have to understand that it is unhygienic, and dangerous.’
Similarly smoking in public spaces, hookah in bars, cafes, lounges hotels and restaurants must not be allowed as it is another potential threat. Smokers are immune compromised, and like diabetics, are at a higher risk to Covid-19 infection.
Dr Ramana Prasad, pulmnologist, KIMS Hospital, explained, ‘Covid’s attack on lungs is very strong. Since smokers are compromised, they are more susceptible. They can also be asymptomatic carriers as they are in immune compromised condition, and contact with them can lead to spread of the disease. Due to this reason, smokers are considered in red zone.’
Similarly hookah is simultaneously smoked by several users and same mouthpiece is passed from person to person, which will increase risk of spread of virus.
The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) has asked all states to tell people to not spit and smoke in public places.
Bhavana B Mukhopadhyay, chief executive, Voluntary Health Association of India, said, ‘We now have to create massive awareness about not spitting in public, like we have done with hygiene and hand wash. This awareness will go a long way in tackling not only Covid but also other infectious diseases.’
Dr Namrata Motihar Rupani, dentist, Capture Life Dentistry, said, ‘The move of Telangana government to ban tobacco and smoking in public is very welcome. People must use the lockdown to consider long-cherished desire to quit and focus on health. Coronavirus is dangerous, but so are smoking and other forms of tobacco. Smokers must quit now and use the lockdown to become healthier.’