The crime branch unit (zone I) attached to the Mira Bhayandar-Vasai Virar (MBVV) police raided a stall selling gutkha and chewing tobacco near a school on Saturday. Acting on a tip-off, police officer Santosh Landge and Raju Tambe swooped down on the stall and seized various brands of gutkha and other banned tobacco products worth more than Rs 48,000.
The vendor who has been identified as Ramesh Yadav (37) was arrested and an offence was registered against him at the Naya Nagar police station under the relevant sections of the IPC and regulations of the Food Safety and Standards (Prohibition and Restrictions on Sales) Regulations, 2011.
Maharashtra became the first state to impose a ban on the production, marketing and sale of gutkha and chewing tobacco products in July 2012. However, the banned products are being sold openly in most pan (betel) stalls located not only in every nook and cranny of the twin-city, but also in the vicinity of schools and colleges.
Provisions under the Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products (Prohibition of Advertisement and Regulation of Trade and Commerce, Production, Supply and Distribution) Act, 2003 stipulates that no person shall sell, offer for sale or permit sale of cigarette or any other tobacco product to any person who is under 18 years of age and in an area within a radius of one hundred yards of any educational institution.
However, most of the kiosks near schools, tend to be brazenly flouting the ban on sale of tobacco near educational institutions. Although the authorities claim to be seizing gutkha and scented tobacco products in frequently conducted raids, the racket involved in smuggling of banned products into Mumbai and Thane from neighboring states like Gujarat (where it is not banned), continues unabated as the source of the consignment is rarely unearthed.