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Crackdown against tobacco sellers in Himachal Pradesh

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In a bid to curb rising cancer cases in Himachal Pradesh, the government had banned the sale of tobacco products from Friday onwards but despite ban shopkeepers are still selling the products like gutkha, khaini in their shops due to ineffective monitoring.

After finding no effect of ban orders, now excise and taxation department has decided to launch a drive from Monday onwards to destroy the tobacco products.

According to sources, from the state headquarter of department directions have been issued to all the districts to conduct raids at the shops to act against the erring officials.

“During raids stock of tobacco products would be checked and shopkeepers would have to show the original bills too,” said a senior officials from excise and taxation department.

Officials said that despite ban if a shopkeeper sells the product then action under food safety and standards act of 2006. “Besides cancelling the registration and license of such shopkeepers, six months imprisonment and fine upto Rs 5 lakh too could be imposed,” added the officials. Sources said that sale of tobacco products like including Khaini, Gutka,pan masala is more in the tourist towns and stockists have hidden their bulk supply and are now clandestinely distributing it to small retailers on demand.

In Shimla sale of such products is more in Mall road area where same is being sold despite ban. Widespread use of tobacco products has resulted into unprecedented rise in number of cancer patients in hill state. Himachal Pradesh had 16405 cancer patients in 2009 that increased to 19705 in 2010 while the number increased to 23241 by 2011-12.

Analysis of rising cases had shown that tobacco consumption was one of the main reasons for cancer.

According to sources apart from registering 2000 new cases each year, state is also witnessing around 200 deaths and this has been established in the study done by cancer hospital in Shimla. Sources said that 45% patients were suffering with mouth and throat cancer caused by excessive use of tobacco products.

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