Selling cigarettes or chewable tobacco products to minors is now an offense under Juvenile Justice Act and will invite a jail term of up to seven years and a fine of Rs 1 lakh. Filling the void for the prevention of sales of tobacco products to minors, we can proudly say that Indian Government has taken a bold step in becoming the first nation in the world to have such stringent punishment.
A quick run down any rudimentary city establishments in India you can see children trying to mimic their way into adulthood by vulgar display of consuming tobacco products. These naive minds lacking foresight of future consequences of their acts use tobacco as a getaway drug before moving onto harder psychotropic substances like alcohol & synthetic drugs. Since these children are not from affluent families, indifference on the part of their parents and the government is completely obvious. Most of these children end up choosing a life of crime in order to sustain their craving for the drugs.
Let’s take a look at ITC. It sells 80 percent of the cigarettes sold in India and a portion those are purchased by minors. A hypocritical act done on the part of the company is the provision of one Rupee per Classmate notebook towards child education which provides irony to the situation.
Another recent story that comes to my mind when I think of the situation is of a young boy who got “mouth cancer” because of his habit of chewing gutka. The boy admitted that he started consuming gutka at an early age. My heart immediately went out to the single mother who was a victim of society. She has no one to support her except her child. Why a victim, because there were no laws to prevent the boys indulgence and a naive mind cannot be blamed. The story was used as an advertisement before movies and in TV to educate people about dangers of consuming tobacco products.
In relation to middle-class people like us, one can definitely draw a comfort knowing that young children are now being protected under the Juvenile Justice Act. One could say that affluent families are usually very protective of their young ones and there are not many chances for them to become an addict. However, that is where they could be wrong. Times are changing and children are getting exposed to a variety of cultures. They are easily influenced by the dark side of the cultural paradigm.
Laws made by humans are sometimes only as good as New Year resolutions, but even those resolutions can be achieved if we are ethically inclined. No law can make the society right if people are unwilling to invest their interest in it. The best path for us to travel is the one where we feel morally responsible for the betterment of the society.
The Juvenile Justice Act 2015 is available on the website of Ministry of Women and Child Development: here