Nicotine gum, used to wean addicts off smoking, is supplied in large quantities to lure children to drugs.

High vigil by the police and the drugs control department in the district is yet to stem the flow of tranquilizer drugs and pan masala from other States by road, rail, and other means of transportation.

Officials who led some of the recent seizures say that many petty shop owners in the city still sell the banned products.

“Clients and shop owners have stopped the conventional exchange pattern. Now, inter-State suppliers and drug addicts are involved in the process,” says a senior officer from the Drugs Control Department. The demand for the products is the same though trade in them was banned in recent times.

Officials say they had come to notice a new trend — the secret trade of nicotine gums, a legally permitted chewing gum, often prescribed for those who try to quit smoking. “In Kozhikode city, it was found to be used for luring students slowly to drug abuse,” they say.

Though shops are allowed to sell nicotine chewing gums up to 2 mg on production of medical prescription, no trader follows the mandatory rules and asks for prescriptions.

Children taste the gum for fun and slowly get attracted to its high-dose varieties. In Kozhikode, there are several such young clients for the gum.

“Trade in nicotine gum above 2 mg is punishable, but here traders supplying the permitted variants in huge quantities,” reveal officials attached to the Kozhikode District Drugs Control Department. The only way to book them is to ask for the sales records first and then slap cases on them if valid records are missing.

Assistant Excise Commissioner P.K. Suresh, who recently led a squad to seize illegally procured nicotine gums from the city, says “The trend has to be stopped at the earliest to save our children from slow addiction.”

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