The specially formed anti tobacco squad of Mumbai police has cracked down on 262 vendors who sold tobacco to minors, or were operating within 100 yards of any educational institute in the central region on Mumbai.
The Mumbai police now plans to extend the drive to other regions after clamping down on tobacco vendors across 20 police stations since July 13.
Of those caught, 133 vendors were fined for selling tobacco or tobacco products to minors, while 129 were found operating near an educational institution.
“Schools and colleges have been asked to notify us if any vendor is selling tobacco related products nearby. It is also the responsibility of all concerned departments to initiate action to stop the youth from tobacco consumption,” said Praveen Salunke, additional commissioner of police, central region.
The drive was initiated at Tardeo, Byculla, Matunga, Sion, Dadar, Shivaji Park, Mahim, Kurla, Wadala, Bhoiwada, Kalachowkie and Dharavi.
The alarming levels at which tobacco use was affecting the youth was portrayed in the Global Adult Tobacco Survey conducted by Mumbai-based Indian Institute for Population Services in conjunction with the ministry of health and family welfare in 2010.
The survey found that the mean age of initiation into tobacco between the age group of 24 and 30 was 17.8 years.
It also found that 14.6% of children between the age group of 13 to 15 years consumed tobacco.
This had forced the government to enact the Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products Regulation Act.
An independent survey conducted by Salaam Bombay Foundation, a non-governmental organisation, in 2012 across 200 schools had found that nearly 61% or 122 schools had tobacco-selling establishments within 100 yards of the school.
Narayan Lad, senior coordinator at Salaam Bombay Foundation, said, “There are still many shops selling tobacco products within 100 yards near schools and colleges. The education department, food and drug and department, police and schools principals should work in coordination to stop this.”
The NGO has been assisting Mumbai police in the crackdown against tobacco vendors.