Freestyle Tobacco Trade in the city
Vivek Kumar,Chandigarhः Despite having stringent anti-tobacco laws, violations are seen in U.T. especially near the educational institutions like schools, colleges and university which are illegal as per law.
According to Section 6 of the Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products (Prohibition of Advertisement and Regulation of Trade and Commerce, Production, Supply and Distribution) Act, 2003 (COTPA), tobacco products cannot be sold to person below the age of 18 years and in places within a radius of 100-yard from the outer boundary of an educational institution established and recognized by an appropriate authority. Also a fine up to Rs. 200 can be imposed for violation of this clause and smoking in public place collected by an official not below the rank of Sub-Inspector.
Legislature has done his duty, but it seems like enforcement agencies do not care about it. Most of the vendors are without licence from FSSAI and those who have, it’s only of beverages, egg and dairy products, petty food businesses.
Tobacco products are being sold fearlessly by these vendors which also include sale of loose cigarettes, imported cigarettes without having pictorial depiction of scorpion and specified warning instruction and other tobacco products like Gutka, Jarda, whereas this practise is fully prohibited under Act.
Also the amended Juvenile Justice Act (Care and Protection of Children) 2015, cites a penalty of seven years imprisonment and a fine of Rs. 1 lakh for those selling cigarettes, beedi and chewable tobacco to juveniles.
We have spotted more than five illegal tobacco vendors functioning within the radius of less than 100 metres from different important educational institutions of Chandigarh.
1. Ashok Kumar from MauliJagran has been selling tobacco products in front of Panjab University Gate No. 1 hardly at a distance of 10 yards. Another person named Mahavir Mittal from Nayagaon also selling the tobacco products within the prohibited area. Many roadside vendors make their adda near this gate without having any vendor registration document.
2. Sunita Devi has her tea stall near CCET and NITTTR, Sector 26, she is also selling tobacco products within the prohibited radius, hardly 30 yards away from the institutions.
3. Roma Devi sitting on her tea stall in front of Saint Kabir Public School, Sector 26 is also selling tobacco products just 20 yards away from the main gate.
4. Ramdev owner of Amethi Pan Bhandar, Booth No. 10, Sector 8B is selling the tobacco products just 20 yards away from GMSS School, Sector 8B boundary.
5. Ram Sumer owner of Ram Sumer Pan & Confectioners, Booth No. 18, Sector 8B, is selling the tobacco products just 30 yards away from GMSS School, Sector 8B boundary
School Point of view
While talking to us Mr.Gurpreet Singh Bakshi of Saint Kabir Public School, Sector 26 said, “This is out of our reach to control the selling of tobacco, it is the duty of government to enforce the law. But we will definitely look into the matter and complaint to concerned authorities.”
We highlighted the spots to RajanaSrivastava, Principal, GMSSS, Sector 8B where the tobacco products are being sold near the school. In her response she assured of looking into the matter and keep a check on vendors practising the illegal activities near school.
Department of health services, Chandigarh
Dr. Deepak Bakshi, Head District Health Services said, “We will penalise the vendors who are selling tobacco within the banned area of educational institutions as per the rules of COTPA Act. Also ensure you to take strict action against them in future. When asked about permanent solution, he says we do not have any right to displace them. Also the fine amount is only Rs 200 which anybody can pay easily, and continue the practise later on again. It should be increased by government to curtail this menace”.