The ban on smoking on the Mall road for the past few years has brought about a drop in sale of cigarettes along this popular boulevard in the capital town.
This is evident from the fact that a number of shopkeepers who were involved in the sale of tobacco products have taken to other businesses, owing to the decline in the number of customers.
Many 'panwari' shops dotting the Mall road right from The Oberoi Clarkes up to the CTO building have either stopped sale of cigarettes or are contemplating quitting the business.
Sahil Gupta, a shopkeeper on the Mall whose family has been in this business for many generations, has now stopped sale of all kinds of tobacco products.
"We have given up the sale of tobacco items gradually after the ban on smoking on the Mall had been imposed. With the ban in force, there has been a consistent decline in the number of customers which forced us to take up the sale of other products like toys," he says.
Another shopkeeper, Ashok Kumar, also confirmed that there was a considerable drop in sale of cigarettes on the Mall.
"With the entire Mall having been declared as non-smoking zone, a majority of smokers desist from purchase of cigarettes. To sustain ourselves, we too have taken to selling other products that are in demand, including confectionery, toys and other items like caps and mufflers, he added.
Meanwhile, the state government's announcement of ban on sale of loose cigarettes has proved to be a
dampener for these shopkeepers and will have a direct bearing on the sale of cigarettes not only on the Mall but also across the town.
"The rising cost of cigarettes already had a number of smokers refraining from purchase of packets. With the ban on sale of loose cigarettes, we won't be able have a good margin. Gradually, we too will have to look for some other business to sustain ourselves." said another shopkeeper, on condition of anonymity.
Meanwhile, Ravi Sharma, head of the department of psychiatry, Indira Gandhi Medical College, who also heads the state de-addiction centre, said, "The number of people coming for tobacco de-addiction is more than that of alcohol de-addiction, which is an indication that people want to quit tobacco consumption".