Mumbai: The Free Press Journal’s campaign against brazen sale of gutkha across the city is picking pace. Despite the ban imposed by the government, paan shops openly sell tobacco products. Shockingly, the youth of the city, including school and college students, buy without care for their health, let alone compunction.
On Thursday, this reporter visited shops in Dadar West and bought gutkha from several stalls without any action from the police or questions from the sellers.
The FPJ campaign
The FPJ team comprising the reporter and photographer started from Kabootar Khana where a paan beedi seller has a stall on the footpath. He had displayed gutkha pouches openly at his small counter.
The next stops were Bhavani Shankar Road, in front of Bata Show Room, and across Bank of Maharashtra. We asked if there was any gutkha and “Sagar or Nazar (brands) will do”. The owners took out Sagar and gave it without fear of action.
There is a stall right outside the famous Shardashram Vidyamandir, too. The FPJ team also visited a paan stall at the Gokhale Road signal, which didn’t stock Sagar but offered 5HK gutkha.
The campaign trail headed to a stall at the corner near One International Centre in Elphinstone, where the owner took it out from a plastic bag.
On asking if the sale attracts any action or fine from the police, many sellers said they only give it to known customers. As per government rules, tobacco product packings need to have health warnings but many sell it in local packings without even the brand names printed on them.
The Mumbai police Crime Branch’s Joint Commissioner of Police Lakhmi Gautam said that the police keep taking action against brazen sale of gutkha. “If anyone sells or buys such products, we take action against them,” he said.
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