Sale of tobacco in shops selling FMCG items banned in Maharashtra


In an order which may not go down well with companies producing goods of common use, the Maharashtra government announced a ban on sale of tobacco at shops that sell chocolates, chips and other edible items, a top FDA official said.

The move is aimed at ensuring youngsters do not get addicted to tobacco products, a top Food and Drug Administration (FDA) official said.

"Children tend to get influenced a lot by the presence of tobacco and other items while they are out shopping for food items like chocolates and chips," Pallavi Darade, Commissioner, Maharashtra Food and Drug Administration, told reporters here.

She said the move followed a directive from the Centre.

The Union government had directed state governments to enforce a ban on sale of tobacco at outlets which also sell Fast Moving Consumer Goods (items of general public consumption).

Maharashtra, which came out with a notification on January 9, became the first state to enforce the ban, the officer claimed.

Several shops sell tobacco and related products as also other FMCG items.

Darade, however, did not say how many shops could be affected by the ban.

Shops and establishments caught selling both tobacco and FMCG items would face penal action, including cancellation of their licence, up to six months imprisonment, and a fine.

The FDA has also extended the ban on scented supari (areca nut) by six months till July 2018, she said.

Darade said, at a meeting with Maharashtra's Minister of State for Home, Ranjit Patil, she sought cancellation of registration of vehicles caught ferrying the banned items and cancellation of drivers' licences under the Motor Vehicles Act. She did not elaborate on whether her proposal was accepted.

The state has also planned disposal of over 5,500 cases under the Prevention of Food Adulteration Act through local-level courts in February, she said. Some of these cases are 20 years old.

Maharashtra will be the third state after Kerala and Gujarat to dispose of cases under the old act, she said.

Noting that only nine lakh vendors serving food items were registered in the state, Darade appealed to them to get registered with the FDA on their own, failing which action would be taken against them.

The administration is undertaking a "street-wise" drive to check compliance and will act tough against those who are not registered, she said, adding that street-side food vendors also have to register.

Darade said more people were needed to enforce the laws concerned and the FDA has sought approval for creating 1,000 additional posts for that.

The FDA has also undertaken a drive against milk adulteration across the state and sent 742 samples to laboratories for testing, she said.

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