Usage of banned tobacco products increased in last 10 yrs: Ma Su

In addition, more than 30 lakh school students will take part in the awareness programme on Thursday.
Health Minister Ma Subramanian
Health Minister Ma Subramanian

CHENNAI: In the past decade the usage of banned tobacco products has increased in Tamil Nadu, and a total of Rs 38.99 crore worth seized from 2013, said Health Minister Ma Subramanian addressing the media after an anti-drug awareness conference held at Kalaivanar Arangam on Wednesday.

In addition, more than 30 lakh school students will take part in the awareness programme on Thursday.

“Despite the tobacco product such as gutkha being banned in Tamil Nadu since 2013 during the previous government, the products are still available including Chennai. However, the Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu has taken strict actions. Though the gutka production is no longer in the State, it has been transported from Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Odisha, and Northwest States,” said Subramanian.

There are several WhatsApp groups created for sale, which includes school students as well, the Chief Minister has instructed the police team to monitor. The State government will introduce a toll free number where common man can report if they come across such activities. The identity of the informers won’t be revealed.

“People also sell pharma drugs including tremetol, nitrazepam are also used as drugs. The State government has directed the food safety department to monitor. From 2013 to June 2022, a total of 952.1 tons of gutka and pan masala worth Rs 38.99 crore were seized. Also, after the present government came into power till June 2022, drugs worth Rs 9 crore that is 152.96 tons were seized, ” he said.

Since 2013, the department collected Rs 2.88 crore penalty imposed to the small shops involved in selling gutkha and pan masala, and case filed in Compund offence. However, after May 2021 to June month 2022, in a year, at least Rs 2 crore fine was collected. Also, as many as 75 shops were sealed under emergency prohibition order in Tamil Nadu.

The minister stated that after the government came into power, over 1,000 people were enquired, of which at least 102 people bank accounts of drug peddelars were disabled, and assets of 25 people worth Rs 15 crore are also disabled. In Tamil Nadu there are rehabilitation centers in 33 government colleges and hospitals, and 202 private rehabilitation centers. Also, the State has the first drug treatment clinic in South India.

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