The Srinagar administration Tuesday launched a city-wide crackdown on illegal sale of cigarettes among other tobacco products holding simultaneous inspections of markets in various areas.
The inspections were held in the wake of growing concerns about increasing prevalence of substance abuse in Srinagar and to verify adherence to the Cigarettes & Other Tobacco Products Act or COTPA 2003 which prohibits advertisement of and provides for regulation of trade and commerce in production and distribution of cigarettes and other tobacco products.
Large number of stores and vendors situated at different places were found selling cigarettes without the mandatory pictorial warnings on packets thereof, said a spokesman.
He said huge cache of such cigarettes was also seized from various markets during the inspections. Some 50 stores and vendors including those found selling cigarettes among other tobacco products close to schools among other educational institutions in violations of COTPA and violating other provisions thereof were booked with several of them sealed during the inspections.
It is notable that the data suggests that the annual amount spent on tobacco consumption in Srinagar is a staggering 131 crore which is the highest in the State. This among other forms of substance abuse involving both genders is growing into a serious cause of concern in the district.
Deputy Commissioner Srinagar Dr Shahid Iqbal Choudhary who has issued strict instructions to concerned officers to crackdown on violators and offenders said violations of COTPA account for serious offences and will be dealt with in the context of public safety.
Dr Shahid assured of sustained efforts to check substance abuse in Srinagar but also urged the general public and parents in particular to do its bit emphasising their important role therein and to assist the administration in its efforts to curb prevalence thereof.
Last month a district level coordination committee comprising 15 members from different departments and organisations was constituted in the district for the implementation of COTPA.
Different members of the committee have been assigned different roles and responsibilities for ensuring effective and functional application of tobacco control in the district.