By Gaurav Das
Guwahati, December 7: With a majority of pan shops in the city selling different tobacco products without putting up sign boards that states prohibition of sale of such products to person below the age of 18 years authorities have begun a crackdown on such shops.
Officials of the district tobacco control cell early this week begun conducting an enforcement drive on such shops and during which it was found that there was a gross violation of section 6 (a) of the Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products Act, 2004 (COTPA).
According to section 6 (a) of COTPA every seller of tobacco products must put up a sign board saying ‘Sale of tobacco products to a person below the age of 18 years is a punishable offence’ and the violation of it will carry penalties.
“We are gearing up the enforcement drive in view of the violation of COTPA and we will continue with it. The enforcement drive that began early this week was carried out in Fancy Bazaar. We found during the drive that there were violations. We collected a fine of Rs 5400 during the raid,” said Samiran Baruah district nodal officer, Kamrup (metro) district tobacco control cell.
During the drive it was found that pan shops also displayed advertisements of different tobacco products brands in prominent fashion.
Assam is among the states in the northeast where the consumption of tobacco among the minor populace is high as compared to the national average sellers of tobacco products continue to sell such products in open violations of COTPA.
Prevalence of tobacco users among minors in the northeast is comparatively higher than the national average according to the latest Global Adult Tobacco Survey (GATS 2, 2016-17) factsheet on the northeast states which was released last month.
Barring Sikkim which recorded zero percentage of tobacco usage among minors the factsheet reported that tobacco usage among minors in states like Mizoram, Arunachal Pradesh, Meghalaya, Tripura, Nagaland, Assam and Manipur was 27.0, 25.1, 12.6, 11.6, 11.3, 9.1, and 9.0 percent respectively as compared to the national average of 4.4 percent.
Sulabha Parasuraman, consultant GATS 2 and faculty member of Tata Institute of Social Science (TISS) said that it was indeed a worrisome trend of high tobacco usage among minors in the northeast.
“The exact reasons so as to why minors in this region are using tobacco more than their counterparts in other states in India are yet to be ascertained properly. Maybe it is due to cultural and traditional acceptance of tobacco. Minors here are seeing their adults resorting to tobacco use and are influenced by it,” said Parasuraman.