: Alarmed that "Tamil Nadu may become another Punjab one day" due to easy availability of tobacco products to young students, the Madras High Court today asked authorities to conduct preventive raids to check the malady.
"If this situation is allowed to continue, one day Tamil Nadu might become another Punjab," observed Justice N Kirubakaran while passing orders on a plea detailing the malady of the shopkeepers selling tobacco products to students and people smoking in public places.
On petitioner T C Sharath's plea, the bench also directed the officials of Union health ministry, the state's Health and Welfare Department, the director general of Tamil Nadu police and Chennai police commissioner to form squads to conduct surprise raids at shops within 100 yards of the educational institutions.
The bench asked the authorities to seize tobacco products as per Section 14 of the Cigarettes and other Tobacco Products (Prohibition of Advertisement and Regulation of Trade and Commerce, Production, Supply and Distribution Act, 2003).
The court also asked Additional Government Pleader Sanjay Gandhi and Additional Advocate General Venkatramani to furnish details of the raids conducted by the state and the Central authorities each month and results of such raids periodically.
It slated the matter for further hearing on March 21.
The court had ordered the authorities last June to book people, smoking in public places under section 21 of the Act and file a report before it.
Referring to various authoritative surveys, it had said these showed that as young as 13 to 14-year-old school going students in Chennai have been using tobacco.