Published On : Wed, Jan 31st, 2018

Heady problem: Kirana shops, in thousands, found selling tobacco products freely

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Nagpur: With rapid expansion of Second Capital City of Nagpur and the boom in population, grocery (kirana) stores mushroomed at every nook and corner in gigantic proportions. No problem as such. The kirana stores are part and parcel of everybody’s life. What is wrong is that these shops are found selling tobacco products such as cigarette, kharra, gutkha,scented supari as well as intoxicating tooth powder (dant manjan) freely. All these products are not part of one’s kirana but the youngsters often visit the shops out of their addiction and easy availability.

Surprisingly, the Food and Drugs Administration (FDA) that swoop on ‘paan thelas’ once in a while are never found interested in cracking down on kirana stores for selling tobacco and other intoxicating products freely for earning some extra bucks. In most of the kirana stores, one could find stocks of tobacco products more than any ‘paan thela.’ Even some ‘pann thela’ owners, to save trouble, purchase all these tobacco products from kirana shops. Considering the mammoth network of kirana shops, one can guess how much quantity of the stuff being sold daily in city.

Seized with the heady problem, the Maharashtra Government, in an order recently, banned sale of tobacco and its products at shops that sell chocolates, chips and other edible items. The move is aimed at ensuring youngsters do not get addicted to tobacco products. Kids tend to get influenced a lot by the presence of tobacco products and other items while they are out shopping for food items like chocolates and chips hence the ban. The move followed a directive from the Centre. Maharashtra became the first state to enforce the ban. Now, shops and establishments caught selling tobacco products would face penal action, including cancellation of their licence, up to six months imprisonment, and a fine. The FDA has also extended the ban on scented supari by six months till July 2018.

The ban is welcome but the moot point is its implementation in true spirit. It is just impossible for FDA to keep a watch on thousands and thousands of kirana shops. Not only the grocery shops, chai tapris (small tea stalls) in thousands across the city stock and sell tobacco products. Faced with the herculean task of enforcing the ban, the FDA has reportedly sought approval for creating 1,000 additional posts for the purpose.