SRINAGAR: The state government has failed to prevent sale of cigarettes and tobacco products in the areas of educational institutions. In Srinagar’s commercial hub, for instance, almost all the educational institutions have their nearby groceries selling cigarettes and tobacco products.
Abdul Majeed, a parent whose son studies in Tyndale Biscoe School, said that, “we all know the harmful effects of cigarettes and tobacco products. “To save the students and minors, who are more prone to tobacco products, it is the need of the hour to dislocate the shopkeepers selling the cigarettes near the educational institutions”, he said.
Nazir Ahmad Bhat, parent of a student said that, “Not only do these shops sell tobacco, but very often we find people smoking nearby, which has a harmful influence on the children.
When Press Trust of Kashmir talks to shopkeepers they said that it is business for them adding that when government is silent why we stop selling these items.
According to Section 6 of the Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products (Prohibition of Advertisement and Regulation of Trade and Commerce, Production, Supply and Distribution) Act, 2003 (COTPA), sale of cigarettes and other tobacco products within a 100-yard radius of educational institutions is illegal. Similarly, the State’s Excise Department bans the sale of liquor within a radius of 100 metres from educational institutions.
The educational institutions also have to display restrictive billboards at their main gate and or boundary walls. The Act also prohibits sale of cigarettes and tobacco products to teens below 18 years of age.
The amended Juvenile Justice Act demands stricter penalty for those selling cigarettes, beedi and chewable tobacco to minors, and invites a jail term of seven years and a fine of Rs. 1 lakh. This is part of the provisions of clause 77 and 78 of the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2015, cleared by the Parliament.
In addition, tobacco is a gateway to drugs for youth, with more than 90 per cent drug addicts starting with tobacco. However, the Act is being ignored with the sale of cigarettes outside educational institutions a very common occurrence here. (PTK)