Srinagar | June 3 : To ensure that loose cigarettes and other tobacco products are not sold by the vendors operating outside schools, a special squad from the Drugs and food and control department Friday conducted surprise checks at various places in City Center Lalchowk.
The team headed by Assistant Commissioner Food Safety, Department of Drugs and Food Control, Hilal Ahmad Mir along with several Food inspectors booked numerous vendors and destroyed dozens of cigarette packs that were being sold illegally and were not depicting the mandatory 85% pictorial health warnings. The team also destroyed numerous packs of chewable tobacco packs.
“We have decided to carry out a vigorous campaign against the menace of tobacco, be it cigarettes or other tobacco products. Today we booked several vendors at Lalchowk, Bund area, Regal Chowk, Exchange Road and other places. We not only destroyed cigarette packs without the mandatory pack warnings but also booked several vendors for selling loose cigarettes and other tobacco products outside schools,” Mir said.
He said that the drug and food control department has been taking action against COTPA violators from the past several years now and time has come that the action needs to be more focused and sustained.
“We have got direct orders from Health Secretary and Controller, Department of Drug and Food Control to take strict action against the vendors involved in selling loose cigarettes and other banned tobacco products,” Mir added.
Pertinently, the Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products Act (COTPA) enacted in the year 2003 is aimed to discourage the consumption of tobacco products through progressive restrictions and to protect non-smokers from passive smoking.
Prohibition on smoking in public spaces, prohibition on all forms of direct/indirect advertisement, promotion and sponsorship of tobacco products, prohibition on sale of tobacco products to minors and within a radius of 100 yards of educational institutions and mandatory depiction of specified health warnings on all tobacco products are the major provisions of COTPA.
“Leading a fight against tobacco is one of the key tasks of our department as the menace of cigarettes and tobacco is threatening our posterity. This is a social cause and everybody should put in his bit to rid the society of this fast spreading evil,” the Assistant Commissioner said.
He said that the squad also removed advertisements of tobacco products at the point of sale (PoS) and also directed the distributors of tobacco products to ensure that all tobacco advertisements are removed within 48 hours from the entire Srinagar city.
“We have given them two days’ time so that they will remove the advertisements voluntarily. If the distributors fail to do so we will initiate challaning of the vendors and if the need arises strict action will also be initiated against them,” Mir added.
Interestingly, the Global Adult Tobacco Survey (GATS) India released by Ministry of Health & Family Welfare (MoHFW), GoI conveys that 26.6% population of Jammu and Kashmir is using tobacco product in one or the other of its form.
According to the survey the state has 12% cigarette smokers, 3.8% bidi smokers and 8.0% smokeless tobacco users. J&K’s cigarette use prevalence (12%) is almost double the nationwide prevalence of 5.7%. It has come to light that the highest proportion of adults (67.9%) exposed to tobacco smoke in offices are in J&K and the lowest (15.4%) are in Chandigarh.
2015 Kashmir Despatch