The Mumbai police is raiding restaurants, shops and hookah parlours selling tobacco to children. In just a week, the crack down has seen 104 cases filed across the city.
The drive, ordered by Mumbai police commissioner Datta Padsalgikar, has led to restaurant staffers from 17 hookah parlours being arrested this year for serving to minors. They face up to seven years in jail under the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act.
The drive has also identified and fined pan-beedi shops within 100 yards of educational institutions.
“Our main focus is to keep minors away from tobacco products. We also need public participation to make the drive stronger. Citizens can tip us off about such establishments, and we will keep their identities confidential,” said Pravinkumar Patil, deputy commissioner of police, enforcement, heading the crack down since last week.
This year alone, the police have also filed 84 cases against people smoking in public place.
An official from the Special Juvenile Aid Protection Unit (SJAPU), conducting the raids, told HT that the civic body does not recognise ‘hookah parlours’ while giving out licences. “The licences given are for smoking zones, which many restaurant turned into hookah parlours by violating several guidelines. The issue is very serious. W have rescued minors as young as 14 found consuming hookah.”
Narayan Lad who works with Salaam Mumbai, an organisation helping the Mumbai police in its drive said a survey of 200 schools in Mumbai showed about 60% shops within 100 yards of these schools were selling tobacco products. “We want the BMC to take action against the establishments by suspending their licence. Under COPTA (Cigarette and Other Tobacco Products Act), the police can only fine offenders Rs200. We need a greater deterrent, and more stringent action may by the BMC may help serve the purpose. ”
How you can help: Call if you see tobacco being served to minors
DCP enforcement office - 022 2269 2515
Senior Inspector of Social Service Branch - 022 2262 2775
Assistant Commissioner of Police (SJAPU) - 022 2262 0569