National Tobacco Control Programme (NTCP) deputy director and state nodal officer Dr Arenla Walling on March 20 said even though tobacco has become a serious threat to our society, particularly to the wellbeing of the younger generation, there is no total ban on the sale of tobacco products under the COTPA 2003.
She also said the department has not asked any third party to carry out enforcement of COPTA provisions on tobacco products except the authorised officials. She added that if there are any such activities, the department has nothing to do with it.
The Confederation of Nagaland Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the Dimapur Chamber of Commerce and Industry flayed the Nagaland government for its silence over the recent ban on the sale of tobacco products in the state by the Khango-led NSCN (K).
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“The tobacco epidemic has been taking a heavy toll on society as indicated by the rising trend of the incidence of diseases and economic burden related to tobacco use. Our society must wake up to the threat posed by the tobacco industry before it is too late,” Waling said.
She said the NTCP has been carrying out various activities to create awareness about the danger of tobacco products through awareness programmes in educational institutions, churches and communities in Nagaland.
She said the district tobacco control cells in all the districts are carrying out enforcement activities to enforce the provisions of COTPA 2003 on a regular basis.
Walling said state tobacco control cell is according to priority to Section-4 of the COTPA 2003 which prohibits smoking in public places, offices and workplaces to protect non-smokers, Section 6 (a) which bans the sale of tobacco products to anybody below 18 years of age and Section 6 (b) which bans sale of tobacco products within 100 meters of any educational institutions.
The department is also trying to invoke the provision of Section 77 of the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act 2015, she added.
Walling said if any person gives any intoxicating liquor, narcotic drugs or tobacco products or psychotropic substance to any child except on the order of a duly qualified medical practitioner, he or she will be punishable with rigorous imprisonment for a term which may extend up to seven years or a fine which may extend up to Rs 1 lakh.
An officer from the rank of sub-inspector of police or equivalent rank in other departments is authorised to act on this, she added.
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