CHENNAI: The Madras High Court has directed the State Health department, the DGP and the City Police Commissioner to form special squads forthwith to conduct surprise raids on shops located within 100 yards from educational institutions, seize tobacco products and curb smoking in public places.
Justice N Kirubakaran gave the directive on Monday on a petition from TC Sharath of Studio 11 of Kodambakkam, seeking action against smokers in public places and shopkeepers, who sell tobacco products to students.
The judge directed the authorities to confiscate the products as per section 14 of Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products (Prohibition of Advertisement and Regulation of Trade and Commerce, Production, Supply and Distribution) Act, 2003 (COPTA ACT) and to book those persons, who smoke in public places as per sec. 21 of the Act and file a report before the court by June 20.
Recalling King James I of England’s remarks that smoking is hateful to the nose, harmful to the brain and dangerous to the lungs, the judge said that it was alarming and shocking to know that there is an extensive use of tobacco products among school-going children. Though statutes and rules mandate that shops, which are located within 100 yards from educational institutions, should refrain from selling tobacco products, it is found that many such shops are selling them, thereby violating the rules. Various studies demonstrated that tobacco usage is high among 13- to 15-year-old school-going students (studying in classes 8 and 10). Smoking outside school campus was reported to be in high proportion among the youth.
As per the ruling of the Supreme court, smoking in public places such as auditoria, hospital buildings, health institutions, educational Institutions, libraries, court buildings, public offices and public conveyances, including railways, are prohibited.
“In view of the above, it becomes necessary and it is the bounden duty of all concerned to safeguard the people, especially, children from the evil effects of tobacco use and passive smoking. Taking into consideration the societal reality, as an urgent
interim measure, this court is inclined to direct the authorities, especially the Health and Family Welfare department and the DGP and the CoP to form special squads to conduct surprise raids on shops located near schools.
He also ordered the removal and confiscation of the advertisements of tobacco products placed near schools and booking of those persons violating rules and posted the matter for hearing on June 20.