Another World No Tobacco Day, another rule goes up in smoke: sadly so in institutions where it should be propagated. Even though the sale or use of tobacco is banned within a 100 m radius of educational institutions and most have put up large notices informing people about the law, there are very few who actually adhere to it.

Many reputed colleges around the city have small shops on their periphery selling tobacco and related products. A majority of these lie within the no-go zone and business is brisk.

Unaware of the law

A small stall on the periphery of R.V. Dental College, J.P Nagar, was spotted selling tobacco products. Upon enquiry, the proprietor said: “I’m unaware of the law and have had this shop for the past 14 years. I’m the only earning member of my family and will be unemployed if this shop gets shut down.”

On being informed about the law and its repercussions, he chose to place the blame on tobacco manufacturers. “The root cause lies in the manufacture of cigarettes. If an anti-smoking law is to be implemented, factories that manufacture these products have to be shut down.”

Passing the buck

While some shop owners claimed ignorance, others blamed poor law enforcement. Though fully aware of the 100-m rule, many have cleverly set up stalls just outside the radius.

A shop owner near PES Institute of Technology said: “I’m aware that there’s a law. However I have been here for many years. This is our business and if I stop selling tobacco, students can always walk a few metres and find another shop.”

He believes the ban is futile as there’s students’ motivation to smoke. “If smoking is banned around educational institutions, students will buy these products from other places.”

The other staff cheerfully confessed they have been fined many times but no strict action has been taken so far.

Peer pressure

As for the students, they were as adamant as the shop owners.

A student standing right outside K.L.E.S.S. Nijalingappa College said: “Smoking starts off as a social thing and most students give in because of the peer group they want to be in. Personally, I underwent a lot of stress and was unable to function on three hours of sleep. Initially it was passive and gradually I began to smoke to relieve all the tension.”

Most students blamed their addiction on peer pressure and weak will power. Another ‘social smoker’ said: “Students will want to imitate their seniors if they see a group of them smoking. If away from visibility, the chances are less for them to get addicted to it.” But he also added that awareness campaigns are really helpful, especially for those serious about quitting.

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