Coimbatore continues to get banned tobacco products for sale

A Food Safety Officer (left) with banned tobacco products seized from a grocery store near Irugur in Coimbatore on Saturday.

A Food Safety Officer (left) with banned tobacco products seized from a grocery store near Irugur in Coimbatore on Saturday.   | Photo Credit: HANDOUT_E_MAIL


The contraband is being sold even near educational institutions

Enforcement activities are yet to deter the sale of banned tobacco products in Coimbatore as the contraband is being sold even near educational institutions.

On Saturday, officials of the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) checked two shops near a school at Irugur and seized around three kg of banned tobacco products of different brands.

Police also say that there were several incidents wherein they seized sachets of banned tobacco products from shops close to educational institutions in the city too.

The law prohibits the sale of any tobacco products within a radius of 100 yards of any educational institution. In the case of Saturday’s seizure, the two shops were found with tobacco products like gutkha – manufacture, possession and sale of which is prohibited in Tamil Nadu like many other States.

According to L. Balaji Saravanan, Deputy Commissioner of Police, Coimbatore City, police have been doing regular checks to prevent the sale of prohibited tobacco products.

He said the city police had so far registered 1,250 cases this year under the provisions of the Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products (Prohibition of Advertisement and Regulation of Trade and Commerce, Production, Supply and Distribution) Act (COTPA), 2003.

Sources with Coimbatore District (Rural) Police said that nearly 1,000 cases were also registered in the rural limits for sale and possession of banned tobacco products.

According to police, illegal manufacturing of banned tobacco products was contained in the district when they busted a panmasala unit at Kannampalayam near Sulur on April 28, 2018 and seized 648 kg of gutka in sachets apart from the raw materials. The panmasala unit owned by Amit Jain of New Delhi manufactured the banned products while he was given permits to manufacture only non-tobacco based products.

“Banned tobacco products are now trafficked in private vehicles and inter-State buses. There had been incidents wherein workers from other States were used as carriers to transport banned tobacco products,” said a senior police officer.

In May 2018, the FSSAI seized 840 kg of banned tobacco products worth around ₹ 6.44 lakh when the consignment was being trafficked from Bengaluru to Coimbatore in two mini goods carriers. In December 2017, FSSAI officials had seized prohibited tobacco products worth over ₹ 10 lakh from an omni bus operating from Bengaluru to Coimbatore.

Recent seizures of banned tobacco products in large quantity by the FSSAI from warehouses in Coimbatore suggest that the supply of the contraband from other States is yet to be contained.

K. Tamilselvan, Designated Officer of the FSSAI in Coimbatore, said that packets of gutka seized in recent raids had little whereabouts of the manufacturer.

“The sachets seized in surprise raids did not have details of the manufacturer, date of manufacture or batch number. Hence, tracing the manufacturer or place of manufacture is a tough task,” he said.

Dr. Tamilselvan added that discussions were also in progress to form a steering committee chaired by the District Collector and officials from various departments, including the police, to enforce prohibition of banned tobacco products in Coimbatore.

With some of the offenders getting repeatedly booked for stocking banned tobacco products, the FSSAI plans to request the Collector to invoke provisions of the Goondas Act against such persons.

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Printable version | Dec 10, 2019 4:44:02 AM |

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