A well-known private school in Basaveshwarnagar, with close to 2,200 students studying from Class 1 to 10, functions in a residential locality. A large board at the entrance says: “The sale of tobacco products is prohibited within a radius of 100 yards of any educational institution.” Ironically, the adjoining building is a small kirana shop that sells cigarettes.
This school is not an exception. A sizeable number of schools and colleges across the city function out of residential or commercial areas where sale of both tobacco products and liquor is commonplace. This, despite the fact that sale of tobacco or tobacco products around educational institutions has been banned for more than a decade. Enforcement agencies cite shortage of staff as one of the reasons for why the rule has not been enforced more strictly.
According to Section 6 of the Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products (Prohibition of Advertisement and Regulation of Trade and Commerce, Production, Supply and Distribution) Act, 2003 (COTPA), sale of cigarettes and other tobacco products within a 100-yard radius of educational institutions is illegal. Similarly, the State’s Excise Department bans the sale of liquor within a radius of 100 metres from educational institutions.
While parents are concerned, managements say their hands are tied. The teacher of one such school said all they can do is ask the shopkeeper not to sell cigarettes and prevent people from smoking outside.
But this is no assurance to parents. Kavita Rao, parent of a student who attends a school in Rajajinagar, near which cigarettes and tobacco products are sold in a shop, said, “Not only do these shops sell tobacco, but very often we find people smoking nearby, which has a harmful influence on the children.”
Though Health Department officials admitted that implementation of the ban has not been up to the mark, they added that they rely on the police to ensure a crackdown on such shops.
However, citing shortage of staff and high work pressure as reasons for the low number of penalties levied in Bengaluru city as opposed to the rest of the State, Bhaskar Rao, Nodal Officer for COTPA, said the Bengaluru police have other priorities to look into. “The law and order pressure too is much higher in the city. The police are doing their best,” he said.
The amended Juvenile Justice Act demands stricter penalty for those selling cigarettes, beedi and chewable tobacco to minors, and invites a jail term of seven years and a fine of Rs. 1 lakh. This is part of the provisions of clause 77 and 78 of the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2015, cleared by the Parliament. Last month, the Karnataka State Commission for Protection of Child Rights wrote to the Home Department to ensure that the provisions are implemented. “These amendments have been made keeping in mind the protection of youth, who are often the target of the tobacco industry. In addition, tobacco is a gateway to drugs for youth, with more than 90 per cent drug addicts starting with tobacco. Hence, strict enforcement of this Act would help protect the youth from addictive substances such as tobacco and drugs,” the letter by Kripa Amar Alva, Chairperson, KSCPCR states.
What Section 6 of the Control of Tobacco Products Act (COTPA) 2003 says
No person shall sell, offer for sale, or permit sale of cigarette or any other tobacco product
-- to any person under 18 years
-- in an area within a radius of 100 yards of any educational institution
Any offence committed under Section 4 or Section 6 may either before or after the institution of the prosecution be compounded by such officer authorised by Union government or State government and for an amount which may not exceed Rs. 200
Toll free number to report violations – 1800110456