764 shops shut for sale of banned tobacco in Coimbatore, Rs 1.5 cr collected in fines

As special teams searched 6,430 shops between October 29, 2023 and June 3, 2024, 764 shops were found selling illegal tobacco products
Image used for representational purposes only
Image used for representational purposes only (File photo)

COIMBATORE: A joint inspection team of FSSAI officials and the police department closed 764 shops in the Coimbatore district over the sale of banned tobacco products in the last seven months and Rs 1.50 crore was collected as a fine from the offenders.

The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) along with the police department has intensified inspections at petty shops situated near educational institutions in the Coimbatore district to curb contraband sales.

As many as 23 special teams have been monitoring the contraband sale in the Coimbatore City Municipal Corporation limits - Peelamedu, Ganapathy, Podanur, Townhall, RS Puram, Saravanampatti, Saibabacolony, Singanallur, Kalappatti, Avinashi road, Gandhipuram, Vadavalli, Racecourse, Ramanathapuram and the rural pockets Mettupalayam, Pollachi, Sulur, Kinathukadavu, Madukkarai, Thondamuthur, Annur, SS Kulam, Periyanaickenpalayam, Karamadai, Anaimalai and Valparai, said sources.

As special teams searched 6,430 shops between October 29, 2023 and June 3, 2024, 764 shops were found selling illegal tobacco products. About 3483.37 kilogram of contraband valued at approximately Rs 36.58 lakhs were seized in the searches.

 "Shop owners have been told not to stock or sell contraband items so that the surroundings of school and college campuses are contraband-free during their reopening," said K Tamilselvan, a designated officer of the Coimbatore district food safety department.

"Rs 10.75 lakh fine was collected from 215 first-time offenders up to January 4, 2023, and then penalties and punishment for the offenders were revised. After January 4, we collected Rs 1.35 crore from 541 first-time offenders as the new revised rule indicates that if they were involved in contraband sale they would face a Rs 25,000 fine and their shop would be closed for 15 days.

Similarly, for the second time, they would be fined Rs 50,000 and their shop would be closed for one month. In that category, a fine of `4 lakh was collected from eight repeat offenders. No one was found with a third offence and if anyone is found with the third consecutive offence, a fine of Rs 1 lakh will be imposed and their shop will be closed for three months.

A total of Rs 1.5 crore was collected as fine in the last seven months. If anyone is found engaging in illegal contraband sales their FSSAI licence would be suspended temporarily. They would be allowed to open shops after receiving affidavits," Tamilselvan explained.

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