A district-level special squad formed by the high-level committee, convened by District Collector Mini Antony, conducted raids at various tobacco vending and petty shops in the town and seized unauthorised and banned tobacco products, on Saturday. The squad, led by Deputy District Medical Officer Dr Priya, has found that the sale of chewing tobacco products are rampant in the district, violating the government ban on it.
The squad has found that, in order to evade the ban, the sale of these products have been changed to tins and wholesale packets.
The squad seized several packets of foreign cigarettes which did not have the health warnings on it, and packets of other cigarettes aimed to lure women and children with the flavours of chocolate, vanilla and strawberry.
Notices have been given to the shop owners near the railway station not to sell tobacco products, including cigarette and beedi, as this area comes under 100 yard distance from Kottayam Mar Thoma Seminary Higher Secondary School and SH Nursing School. Dr Priya and District Mass Media Officer K Dev said that strict action be taken against the violators.
“We will continue the raids at least twice a month. Raid will also be conducted upon receiving complaints and phone calls from informants,” said Dev.
The squad imposed fines of `200 from various persons who were smoking in public places. Collector Mini Antony has asked the public to inform the district administrative authority or the police if the unauthorised selling of tobacco products are found.
The district-level squad was formed to promote activities aimed at making Kottayam a tobacco-free town. The District Medical Officer is the convener of the committee, which was formed four years ago.
The squad had conducted a similar raid earlier this month and seized unauthorised and banned tobacco products. Police officer P O Ashraf from the office of the District Police Superintendent took part in the raids.