Kannur: The sale of tobacco products to those under the age of 18 continues to burgeon in blatant disregard of the law making this illegal. Every vendor has the board put up claiming that sale to underage children is prohibited. However, the biggest customers for tobacco products remains school and college students!
The once in a blue moon raids carried out by excise sleuths or police results in big loads of pan and other products being confiscated. However, there is seldom any action other than detaining the peddlers and and slapping them with a fine. Often there aren't any probe into the source and the channels of smuggling these products.
The punishment for transporting or selling tobacco products is only a fine, a mere slap on the wrist which enables those caught to continue doing the same things. Most of the people caught in such instances under police record are repeat offenders. These days, on top of tobacco products, even intoxicating sweets are being sold in shops near schools.
Earlier, routine health department checks used to take place under schemes like Healthy Kerala. This kept a check on the sale of such products. However, new steps taken by the health department, decreasing the regularity of checks has contributed to the upsurge in sales of these products.
In spite of the fact that parent bodies, teachers associations and school managements are all increasing their roles, in many cases, nobody comes forward to give an official complaint. The need of the hour is to stop letting off those involved with mere fines and instead trace out the source of the problem and bring them to public light.