TODAY -

No respite from drug and tobacco threatse
- The People's Chronicle Editorial :: November 23, 2022 -



The anti-drug poster campaign launched by Manipuri Students' Federation (MSF) in association with All Manipur School Students Transporters' Association (AMSSTA) on Monday and the drive carried out by Apunba Ireipakki Maheiroi Sinpanglup (AIMS) against sale of tobacco products in the market place on the same day underscore gravity of the situation arising out of substance abuse in the state.

In fact, these student organisations as well as various other civil bodies had been periodically conducting campaigns against sale and use of products, which everyone knows are hazardous to health but many continue to consume the same as a fashion statement.

Similarly, government and non-governmental organisations have been carrying out intense campaigns for checking drug peddling and abusing but with little success as is evident from reports of seizing of large quantities of narcotic drugs at frequent interval both in the state and in neighbouring states.

Regarding tobacco products, the government had issued notifications multiple times prohibiting sale of specific tobacco items although the number of consumers of such banned products continues to rise with the users no more limited to the adult population for it is becoming common sight to see even students in uniform with mouthful of various chewable tobacco products.

Moreover, in-spite of the ban, shopkeepers could be seen openly selling tobacco-based products in the main markets and under the very nose of law enforcement personnel, deployed almost everywhere in the main commercial areas. Apparently, inaction by the men in uniform must have compelled AIMS volunteers to perceive it appropriate to launch the drive.

Compared to narcotic substances whose transportation and sale are carried out with utmost secrecy as once arrested imprisonment till grant of bail is unavoidable, it is questionable how traders continue to run tobacco business so brazenly.

Accepted that periodical issuance of notifications against sale of prohibited tobacco products are part of the measures initiated to reduce smoking and check widespread usage of various tobacco products throughout the state and the threat it poses to both the adults and youth population.

As the notifications haven't had the desired impact, it is but natural for non-governmental organisations including student bodies to not only cast aspersions on state authorities' resolve to strictly implement the original The Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products (Prohibition of Advertisement and Regulation of Trade and Commerce, Production, supply and Distribution) Act, 2003' and the Act's amended versions but also scorn at the law enforcement agencies.

Such derisive expressions indicate that neither framing of legislations nor the anti-tobacco campaigns are yielding the desired result.

Non-compassionate attitude and approach by government institutions towards tackling the health and social issues arising out of tobacco usage, no doubt, are some factors for Manipur figuring among the top states whose citizens are exposed to the varied threats from smoking and use of other tobacco products.

Convenient access to tobacco products at every nook and corner of the state, including at educational campuses and government offices also compels one to question purpose of framing laws against sale or use of tobacco items if at all such initiatives could not be supplemented with actual crackdown at the ground level.



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