Shops selling tobacco close to schools could lose licence
In a significant move to ensure that the sale of tobacco near educational institutes is stopped, civic officials will revoke licences of shops selling tobacco and tobacco-related products within 100 yards of any educational institute.mumbai Updated: Apr 15, 2012 01:13 IST
In a significant move to ensure that the sale of tobacco near educational institutes is stopped, civic officials will revoke licences of shops selling tobacco and tobacco-related products within 100 yards of any educational institute.
On April 7, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) issued a new circular to medical officers and sanitary inspectors of all wards stating that action against violators would include seizure of tobacco products and revoking of licences in addition to an existing penalty of Rs 200.
“We will take strict action against all shops selling tobacco products. If tobacco products are not placed in front of children, consumption will automatically reduce. Shopkeepers will think twice before violating rules because they will now stand to lose their licences. This action will make the city healthier and will also help in awareness,” said Geeta Gawli, chairman of the health committee, BMC, adding that meetings with the medical officers of most of the wards have been held.
“Inclusion of this ban in the general conditions for licensing will help control sale of tobacco. A fine of Rs 200 was not a deterrent at all. This will work much better against the tobacco industry that is targeting children,” said Dr Pankaj Chaturvedi, oral cancer specialist, Tata Memorial Hospital.
According to The Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products Act, 2003 (COTPA), sale of cigarettes and tobacco products is prohibited to “any person below eighteen years of age, and (b) in an area within the radius of one hundred yards of any educational institution.”
In a 2011 survey of 75 schools conducted by Salaam Bombay Foundation, more than 200 shops were found selling tobacco products.
“Children will buy whatever is available to them in their 15-minute break. It is not possible for them to go far and buy gutkha or cigarettes. The products are also displayed in the line of vision of children. Once access is reduced, consumption will automatically reduce,” said Devika Chadha, programme director, Salaam Bombay Foundation.
Principals of schools and colleges have welcomed this move. “This is definitely a good move,” said Sitalakshmi Parameswaran, headmistress of Modern English School in Chembur. “If these things are nearby it creates a problem. Sometimes students may want to try it out because they see it easily available in a shop.”