As part of a massive crackdown against the sale of gutka and other tobacco-laced edibles, the Haryana government has entrusted all the doctors at community health centres with the task of conducting raids at the shops selling such products.
Earlier, only the district-level officials of the food safety department were assigned for the job. Doctors have been roped in to help implement the ban on the sale of gutka and paan masala. The state has imposed a blanket ban on the sale of these products since August 15.
"Manufacturing, storage, sale and distribution of gutka and paan masala that contain tobacco or nicotine have been banned as per the direction of commissioner, Food Safety, Haryana. Doctors working at community health centres and primary health centres will help implement the order more effectively," said Gurgaon civil surgeon Dr Praveen Garg.
Dr Garg said that an order to this effect has been issued and strict action will be taken against those violating the order.
Meanwhile, a team of food safety officials conducted raids at 17 paan shops in Gurgaon on Monday. The team led by food safety officer Surender Poonia also collected samples of gutka sold at a paan shop near 32nd Milestone.
Poonia said that Rajasthan government has already banned sale of gutka and the Delhi government is also planning to follow suit. "Once these products are banned in neighbouring states, sale of these items could be effectively stopped," he added.
According to the Food Safety and Standards (Prohibition and Restriction on Sales) Regulations, 2011, food items which contain tobacco and nicotine are banned as they can be injurious to health. The offenders can be punished with imprisonment up to six months or fine up to Rs. 1 lakh. In the event of death of a person, the shopkeeper can be punished with seven-year imprisonment and/or a fine up to Rs. 10 lakh, Poonia said.
In Noida, several village panchayats have passed an order to ban sale of gutka and tobacco. Any person found selling these products will be fined Rs. 1,000 and buyers will have to shell out Rs. 500 as penalty.