Despite the ban on the sale of tobacco products to minors and near schools, the rule is being openly flouted across Dwarka.
Several vendors across Dwarka are flouting rules by selling tobacco products to minors and setting up shops within 100 m of schools. It is not only the tiny kiosks on footpaths that are guilty of the offence, some authorised tobacco shops are at it too.
This City Spidey reporter took a round of the sub-city and found that despite the ban on sale to minors, there is no fear of law among the sellers.
Rekha Jhingan, the director of Sahaj Sambhav, an organisation that deals with drug addicts, said, “It is a shame that many minors are hooked to tobacco products, despite the community, the authorities and the social organisations working against it. One of the major causes for so many youngsters being exposed to tobacco products is that there is no check on the violation of laws. I have come across several schoolchildren smoking cigarettes. The condition is even worse in slums, where children are addicted to cigarettes and chewing tobacco from a young age. It is my appeal to all to join hands against underage tobacco use. The authorities need to take strict action against the violators.”
"There are cigarette shops in every nook and corner of the sub-city," said Ramesh Mumukshu, an RTI activist and a social worker. "I've seen several such kiosks less than 100 m from schools. They have no qualms about selling tobacco products to the kids, despite it being illegal. The authorities are not serious about the issue. They need to enforce the rule."
Kids buying and using tobacco products is a common sight across Dwarka. The shopping malls in sectors 22 and 23 have five schools within a 100-m radius, and yet the sale of tobacco products at both the places is rampant.
A vendor in Sector 6, guilty of flouting the rule, said, “I have been setting up shop at this very place for more than 10 years, and no one has ever objected to my being here.”
The local police said they do take action against such shops and also write to the corporation. The corporation officials said they carry out regular anti-encroachment drives against such vendors.
Then why are the kiosks and shops still around? And why are they growing in number?