Chandigarh, Jul 6: The Punjab government on Thursday said orders had been issued to district authorities to take "strict action" against vendors selling tobacco products to minors.
Health and Family Welfare minister Brahm Mohindra said a vendor selling tobacco, alcohol and psychotropic substance to a minor must be booked under the Juvenile Justice Act 2015. Stating that an order had been issued to district authorities asking for action against such vendors, he said the health and other departments concerned would jointly carry out the campaign to make young people and the general public aware of laws such as the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2015, and Cigarette and other Tobacco Product Act 2003 (COTPA) across the state.
Mohindra, in a statement, said according to Section 77 of the Juvenile Justice Act, "Whoever gives, or causes to be given, to any child any intoxicating liquor or any narcotic drug or tobacco products or psychotropic substance, except on the order of a duly qualified medical practitioner, would be punishable with rigorous imprisonment for a term which may extend to seven years and would also be liable to a fine which may extend up to Rs 1 lakh".
Under the Act, a "child" refers to those not yet 18, he said. He said the Juvenile Justice Act has been in force in the country from January 15, 2016. Necessary directions have been issued to all deputy commissioners, police commissioners and SSPs to ensure strict compliance with the Act. The district authorities were also asked to submit monthly action taken reports to the state government.
Dr Rajiv Bhalla, director health services, said exemplary punishment to errant vendors would reduce the incidence of tobacco intake among minors. According to the 'Global Adult Tobacco Survey Report (2009-10)', every year, 1,60,000 minors start using tobacco in Punjab. About 42 per cent of users took tobacco before they were 18.