| Policemen seize gutkha packets and fine shopkeepers on Friday. Picture by UB Photos |
Sept. 14: The Kamrup (metro) district tobacco control cell today conducted raids on around 10 shops selling tobacco products like cigarettes, gutkha and paan masala near schools and colleges in Panbazar.
The tobacco cell has so far been verbally warning shops selling tobacco products near educational institution but this is the first time it has imposed a fine of Rs 200 on shopkeepers found violating Section 6 (b) of the Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products Act, 2003.
The act prohibits sale of tobacco products within 100 yards of any educational institution.
Officials of the tobacco control cell were assisted by city police during the raids.
“We conducted a raid on around 10 shops selling various tobacco products near several schools and colleges in Panbazar. Despite repeated warnings, these shops have not bothered to adhere to the existing law. Earlier, during our awareness drives, we had tried to educate them on the harm caused through consumption of tobacco and that it was illegal to sell them to students. But, today, we imposed a fine of Rs 200 on shopkeepers of all shops as this is the only means to make them adhere to the law,” said Rajiv Sarma, nodal officer of the tobacco cell.
A similar drive was carried out by the Kamrup (metro) district administration in July in an attempt to enforce the act.
The administration had claimed the shopkeepers selling such harmful products near educational institutions would be fined and their trade licences cancelled for repeated violations and even put behind bars.
However, despite numerous such drives in the past, the shops situated near schools and colleges manage to sell these products to students, who are in danger of getting addicted to tobacco products.
While shopkeepers refrain from selling these products for a few days after a raid takes place, it does not take them long to return to their old ways. Moreover, all tobacco shops are required to install signboards or banners warning that tobacco is injurious to health.
The tobacco cell is also planning to institute school committees comprising teachers of four selected schools to monitor that no student has access to tobacco products near schools.
“We will keep conducting such raids in a phased manner in all areas of the city until shops stop selling tobacco products near educational institutions,” said Sarma.