Shillong: District authorities in Meghalaya’s East Khasi Hills District, which includes State capital Shillong, has in an order prohibited sale of cigarettes and other tobacco products to any person who is under eighteen years of age and area within 100 yards radius from the outer boundary of educational institutions.
Vendors and shopkeepers who sell tobacco products have been ordered to display a notice containing the warning “Sale of Cigarettes and other Tobacco products to a Person under the age of eighteen years is strictly prohibited and is a punishable offence.”
“The order is necessitated in view of the complaints received that vendors and shopkeepers are selling cigarettes and other tobacco products to minors at market places and within the close proximity of educational institutions openly, thus violating Section 6 of the Cigarettes and other Tobacco Products Act, 2003 (COTPA), which prohibits sale of tobacco products to minors, i.e below the age of 18 years,” District Magistrate Isawanda Laloo stated.
Further, the Act also gives power to any police officer, not below the rank of a Sub-Inspector or any officer of State Food or Drug Administration or any other officer, holding the equivalent rank being not below the rank of Sub-Inspector of Police for search and seizure where tobacco products are produced, stored or sold, if he suspects that the provision of the Act has been violated and any person who contravenes the provisions of Section 6 shall be guilty of an offence under this Act and shall be punishable with fine, the order cautioned.
The order also states that selling of tobacco products in close proximity of educational institutions, is not only in violation of the directions of the Supreme Court, but also influences and normalises consumption of these products in children, which leads to issues of addiction in later years, and has an adverse impact on health and well-being of the people.
The East Khasi Hills district in Meghalaya has the highest relative proportion of cancer associated with use of tobacco in the country with 70.4 percent and 46.5 percent of males and females respectively, the National Health Mission (NHM), Meghalaya report had revealed earlier this year.
“In Meghalaya, 53.7 per cent of men, 9.5 per cent of women and 31.6 per cent of all adults currently smoke tobacco,” the report said, adding that 11.6 percent of men, 29.1 percent of women and 20.3 per cent of all adults currently consume smokeless tobacco.
Also, 59.8 per cent of men, 34.2 per cent of women and 47.0 per cent of all adults either smoke tobacco and/or use smokeless tobacco, the report, which was released on ‘World No Tobacco Day’ had highlighted.