Illegal transportation and unauthorised sale of banned tobacco substances persist notwithstanding drives

Published - July 10, 2024 09:07 pm IST - TIRUCHI

Gunny bags containing banned tobacco substances seized by the Tiruchi city police recently.

Gunny bags containing banned tobacco substances seized by the Tiruchi city police recently. | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

A patrol party of the Tiruchi city police in the early hours on Wednesday spotted a car along the Thanjavur Road under Gandhi Market police station limits here.

While approaching the vehicle, a person inside the car escaped upon noticing the police party which found 210 kg of banned tobacco substances inside the vehicle and arrested another person inside the car. The accused was remanded. The banned substances were said to have been smuggled from Bengaluru in the car which was also seized along with the substances. 

A week ago, a police team while conducting vehicle checks at SIT junction stopped a car in the early hours and checked the vehicle. The team found several gunny bags containing 240 kg of banned tobacco substances inside the car and arrested two persons, besides seizing the substances and the vehicle. The two are the latest seizures to have been made in Tiruchi City alone.

In the last one week, the Tiruchi city police have seized 450 kg of banned tobacco substances which were being smuggled into the city. Notwithstanding periodic drives by the law-enforcers, prevalence of banned tobacco substances and its unauthorised sale in Tiruchi City seem to be persisting if the number of cases booked by the Tiruchi city police and the seizures made by them are any indication.

Police sources said in the last six months alone (January to June 2024), the Tiruchi city police had seized around 1,350 kg of banned tobacco substances in its jurisdiction and booked as many as 111 cases besides arresting 123 persons. Around 70 shops which were found selling the banned substances were closed during the same period jointly by the Food Safety and Drug Administration department officials and the City Police. 

A senior official of the Food Safety and Drug Administration department said such substances made their way clandestinely into the State from Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh where they are not banned. The banned tobacco substances are smuggled through different types of vehicles, he added. In one such instance, the substances were found concealed in gunny bags below vegetables in a mini freight carrier when a police team checked the vehicle and detected them in Tiruchi city.

Police sources say the banned tobacco substances were being smuggled from Bengaluru and sold at a higher rate clandestinely. Despite registration of cases, seizure of substances, arrest of accused and sealing of shops, the banned tobacco substances continue to be clandestinely brought and gets distributed to different locations. The “demand” for such substances notwithstanding the risk it could pose to one’s health seems to be prevalent keeping alive this illegal activity, say sources. 

It is not only in Tiruchi city that the banned tobacco substances have been seized in bulk from vehicles and godowns. This has been the case in neighbouring Perambalur district as well where such substances in bulk quantities have been confiscated in Perambalur and Kai Kalathur. The “network” has also kept this illegal activity to thrive.  Around 1,500 kilograms of seized substances were destroyed recently by setting them afire in a pit that was dug in a garbage dump near Perambalur in the presence of officials.

The substances are sold illegally only to “known customers” by the shopkeepers in order to evade detection, say sources adding that those who get addicted to such substances find it difficult to get rid of it. Police sources say they were continuing their efforts by carrying out drives against banned tobacco substances in coordination with the Food Safety and Drug Administration department.

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