The Election Commission has prohibited all kinds of tobacco at polling booths during the Lok Sabha elections next year in a bid to effectively implement tobacco control laws, PTI reported on Wednesday. The poll panel has directed all states and Union territories to issue instructions to district electoral officers-cum-district magistrates to ensure that chewing tobacco and smoking are not allowed at polling booths.

“All the polling booths in country to be declared tobacco-free and not just smoke-free, so use of bidi, cigarette, gutkha, scented/flavoured chewable tobacco are prohibited in all polling booths,” said the Election Commission’s guidelines, adding that each station will put up a banner saying the same.

The presiding officer of each polling booth will be nominated as the nodal officer to ensure that the guidelines are effectively implemented. All district tobacco control cells will be required to supervise the campaign in order to sensitise people on the ill-effects of tobacco.

The move comes after the Delhi government’s Health Department had urged the Election Commission to declare that all polling stations should be tobacco-free zones and not just smoke-free zones.

“On election day, majority of adult population of our country is likely to visit polling booth to caste its vote,” Delhi Additional Director (Health) Dr SK Arora had written to the panel. “This will be an excellent opportunity to sensitise the majority adult population on a single day through display of multi-colour banners with message on ill-effects of tobacco at polling booth.”