Tobacco products to the tune of Rs.9 lakh were seized by the district health administration in raids on shops near educational institutions on Monday.

The district health administration deployed 58 teams, including health officials, field workers, and medical officers, under the SAFE (Special Action for Environmental Protection) initiative launched to book those whose actions violate the public health Act.

The teams raided 1,208 shops in all, and tobacco products were seized from 205 shops.

As many as 10,531 cigarette packs, 59,882 beedi packs, 1,102 packs of pan masala, 29.5 kg of snuff powder, and 2.5 kg of other tobacco products were seized.

Even though in most places, traders’ unions cooperated with the health officials, there was some tension in Vizhinjam grama panchayat when the officials insisted on entering a shop. The police had to be called in to defuse the situation.

District Medical Officer T. Peethambaran said that following Monday’s raid, notice had been served on 202 people who had violated the public health Act by selling tobacco products within a specified radius of schools and stocking pan masala in violation of the government’s ban on the sale of pan masala products. Legal action would be taken against those who did not respond to the notice, Dr. Peethambaran said.

He said the raid against the sale of tobacco products near school premises would continue and strict action would be taken against those violating the ban on pan masala. He said that information on those who violated the ban on pan masala had been passed on to the district food safety officials.