Despite a ban, Gutkha & Khaini are being sold for thrice the printed price
One of the HW community members himself approaches a shopkeeper and was able to buy a packet of ‘Khaini’ despite of a ban on the product
The government of Himachal Pradesh completely banned tobacco products such as Gutkha, Khaini, Pan Masala on 2nd October this year. However, these dangerous products continue to be sold in the state. Himachal was only the fourth state after Madhya Pradesh, Kerala, Maharashtra and Bihar to put a ban on all the mentioned products. Despite the fact that the government has made any kind of storage, manufacture or sale and distribution of such products in the state illegal, the shopkeepers continue to violate the guidelines.
We tried to test the impact of the ban and approached a local shop in Shimla asking for ‘Khaini’. The results were shameful. The shopkeeper not only sold ‘khaini’ but that too at thrice the original printed price. The problem doesn’t lie with one or two shopkeepers only, rather most of the small shop owners and pan centres are still selling all these products illegally and at raised prices. It has been proposed that anybody violating the guidelines would be legally prosecuted and booked under the provisions of food and security act with fines up to Rs. 25000/-
Until now, the government has failed to implement strict measures against such shopkeepers who continue to sell these harmful and injuries tobacco products illegally. It’s so unfortunate that the government always lacks when it comes to reviewing and follow up on the policies it implement. What’s the use of the ban if the violators has no fear of punishment? Rather, the ban has given them the opportunity to buy these products illegally at raised prices.
The government needs to plan for the post effect of the ban, curb these violators, and teach them a lesson to set an example for others involved in the same.
By Vayu Mankotia , Shimla, Member HW Community