Anti-tobacco drive
View of an anti-tobacco drive in Guwahati. File photo

The Assam Chamber of Commerce, Consumer Voice, New Delhi and Consumers’ Legal Protection Forum, Assam demanded that the selling of tobacco products be banned near educational institutions in Assam.

In a joint statement, the three organisations said they will abide strictly by the Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products Act (COTPA) of 2003.

They jointly declared that its members shall refrain from selling any kind of tobacco products to children and youth.

Considering the consumption of tobacco products and injurious to health leading to serious illnesses and mortalities in many cases.

They jointly declared that selling tobacco products near educational institutions should be strictly banned by the enforcement agencies.

They also appealed to the parents, guardians, teachers, educational institutions managements and hostels to ensure that youth are properly explained the consequences so that they do not get addicted.

Rupam Goswami, chairman of the Assam Chamber of Commerce (ACC) in the statement said members of the association have been told on a regular basis about the compliance of the COTPA 2003 law provisions and that the retailers require the community help to ensure that law is obeyed.

He cited that the new law of COTPA (Amendment) alone will not bring changes unless enforcement is done.

For this, a mass awareness campaign should be undertaken by the government and NGOs.

He promised strict action against members who do not abide by the law of the land.

Ashim Sanyal, COO & secretary, Consumer Voice, New Delhi expressed his satisfaction over the first round of discussion with ACC and appealed to the members of the Assam Chamber of Commerce to abide by the existing COTPA law and with any amendment clauses which the central government is discussing.

He pointed out that gross violations around educational institutions have been recorded during the Tiny Target study conducted last year and expressed the hope that retailers will refrain from targeting children and youth.

Advocate Ajoy Hazarika, secretary, Consumers’ Legal Protection Forum, Assam said tobacco control does not mean harming the livelihood of the tobacco retailers.

Protecting the lives of innocent children and youth from tobacco use is the duty of all retailers, he said.

He promised to carry out mass awareness campaigns in schools and colleges along with retailers so that jointly tobacco consumption levels in Assam can come down. He warned that tobacco is a silent killer and children are easy prey.

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