Paan shop owner arrested for selling cigarettes to minor
Mumbai: A paan-beedi shop owner was arrested on Tuesday for selling cigarettes to a 17year-old boy. The accused is the first person to be booked under the stringent amended sections of the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection) Act. Also, this is perhaps the first such arrest in the country. The amendments were passed on January 15.
The police acted with the help of the food and drug administration (FDA). The accused was selling cigarettes within 100 metres of Don Bosco International School, Matunga. “He will be fined Rs 5 lakh and sentenced to seven years’ rigorous imprisonment if the charges against him are proved,” said Atulchandra Kulkarni, joint commissioner of police (crime branch). “The amendments have provided more teeth to the law. Several new sections on cruelty to juveniles, child labour, and selling drugs or tobacco to children have been introduced.”
The crime branch will rope in the police’s enforcement unit and the anti-narcotics cell to register offences against those who sell tobacco to minors. “Earlier, section 25 of the Juvenile Justice Act prohibited the sale of intoxicants and liquor to minors. But the amended law has spread its wings by introducing several more substances like tobacco,” Kulkarni said. The Juvenile Aid Protection Unit (JAPU) has formed a squad to keep tabs on those suspected of selling cigarettes and other tobacco products to minors, especially near educational institutions.
Dr Pankaj Chaturvedi, head and neck cancer surgeon at Tata Memorial Hospital, has been working with the police on their drive against selling tobacco products to minors. He said, “Fifty per cent of cancers in males and 20% in females can be directly attributed to tobacco use. As per the findings of the study ‘Economic Burden of Tobacco-Related Diseases in India, 2014’, commissioned by the Union ministry of health and family welfare, the figure for tobacco use by those aged 35-69 years was Rs 104,500 crore.”