No end in sight for illegal tobacco products in Guwahati

Business COVID-19

Despite the strict ban on sale of gutka, tobacco and liquor issued by the Home Ministry, the sale continues in Guwahati city.

By Muskaan Agarwal

April 17, 2020

The Home Ministry issued a fresh set of guidelines during the second stage of the lockdown which will remain in force till 3rd May.

The guidelines, state a strict ban on the sale of gutka, tobacco, and liquor. But their far from stopping in Guwahati. The items deemed illegal are also sold at an inflated price.

Sikandar (name changed), a shopkeeper, said, “Sale of the gutka, and tobacco continues but not over the counter. I have to continue this despite the ban, because I can’t run my house without money.”

“I take orders in the evening from the customers of the apartments near my area. I tell them the amount of their products, and then they either google pay or give the money to the security guard in the evening. I deliver their products between 5:30 AM- 6:30 AM and collect my money from the guard.”

Arnav Shah (name changed), said, “I brought cigarettes illegally at ₹400 but the Maximum Retail Price (MRP) of the cigarette was ₹165. I smoked 3-4 cigarettes in a day but due to the lockdown, I smoke only once. It’s difficult for me, because of my addiction.”

Puja Agarwal (name changed), said “I brought ‘paan masala’ at ₹500 but the MRP was ₹300”. She also said that she felt helpless as she is used to eating this and has no other choice but to buy it at a higher price.

A Guwahati police officer said, “We have found some shopkeepers selling tobacco products in the city and they are asked to pay a fine of ₹2000.”

“We are working to stop the sale of tobacco products in the city as soon as possible,” he added.

Many NGOs and Health experts have asked for a complete ban on such products because this makes the immunity system weak and increases the risk of the spread of COVID-19.


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