Palike lacks will to check tobacco sale near colleges

Palike lacks will to check tobacco sale near colleges

Palike lacks will to check tobacco sale near colleges

The Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) seems to lack the will to follow the direction of the High Court to evict tobacco-sellers located within 100 yards of educational institutions. 

A BBMP official said the health officers in the Palike have not even constituted the enforcement squad, which comprises a senior health officer, two constables from the Bangalore Metropolitan Task Force (BMTF) and a group ‘D’ worker. Despite several correspondences between the Palike and other implementing agencies such as the Police department, the squad was not formed to check the tobacco shops near educational institutions.

The official said there is no proper protocol for inspection. Besides, the tobacco vendors, claiming to have the support of influential and anti-social elements, threaten the Palike officials during the inspection, the official said.

The Palike’s anti-tobacco cell could collect only about Rs 93,000 as penalty and 14 kg of tobacco products since 2009, the official added.

In 2009, a survey report published by the Public Health Institute on tobacco use among pre-university students stated that the most colleges didn’t have any policy to curb sale of tobacco outside the college premises. Following the survey Lawyers Collective, an NGO, filed a PIL in the High Court, seeking effective enforcement of the Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products (Prohibition of Advertisement and Regulation of Trade and Commerce, Production, Supply and Distribution) Act, 2003. The High Court had directed the Education department to conduct inspection of all the PU colleges in the City.

Dolly Kalita, a lawyer and one of the petitioners, said after the inspection most of the colleges had displayed tobacco warning boards, but couldn’t evict tobacco sellers.

“Although the Education department ensures that all institutions display tobacco warning boards, it is the duty of the BBMP and the police department to remove all petty shops which are still selling tobacco near educational institutions. At places, college principals expressed their fear that the vendors had the support of some anti-social elements,” the lawyer said.

Kalita’s letter dated January 2, 2012, stated that 33 out of 500 PU colleges in the City had vendors selling tobacco within 100 yards of the institutions. In previous letters, the petitioner had listed 40 such colleges. The colleges can’t be rid of the tobacco-sellers without the help of police and the Palike, Kalita said.