Licencing system for tobacco sellers sought

It will restrict sale and curb consumption by the youth, say voluntary groups

Voluntary groups working for tobacco control in Rajasthan on Wednesday demanded a licencing mechanism for retail tobacco sellers which would restrict the sale of tobacco products and curb their consumption by the youths. Activists said this would protect the health of youths during the COVID-19 pandemic and ensure the success of a de-addiction campaign starting here shortly.

Though the State government had authorised municipal bodies in 2018 to regulate the sale of tobacco products, the vendors violating the rules pay a petty fine and go back to selling tobacco. Activists have been pressing for enforcement of a vendor licensing system with the framing of rules under the Cigarette and Other Tobacco Products Act, 2003.

Vulnerable section

Young tobacco users were vulnerable to catching influenza-like infections and they could expose non-users to the tobacco products, besides spreading contagious diseases by the habits such as spitting in the open, said the activists on the occasion of the International Youth Day.

Jayesh Joshi, secretary of Banswara-based Vaagdhara group, said here that the youths were getting addicted to tobacco “faster than ever before” and the projected number of deaths from tobacco far exceeded than those of COVID-19. He said the State government had failed to take any concrete step to curb the menace even after accepting the high number of fatalities by tobacco-related diseases.

Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot has announced the launch of a comprehensive de-addiction campaign from August 15 with the focus on the youth vulnerable to substance abuse. As part of its steps to discourage youths from addiction, the State government had banned e-cigarettes on May 30, a day before World No Tobacco Day, in 2019.

The spitting of betel leaf and chewable tobacco and non-tobacco products or sputum in public places and institutions was also banned under the Rajasthan Epidemic Diseases Act, 1957, in April this year.

‘Bold step’ sought

Mr. Joshi said the State government should take a “bold step” to stop unregulated tobacco sales by allowing only licensed sellers through the municipal bodies in order to curb the access to tobacco products and shield the youths and children from the biggest cause of preventable death.

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