Kids found selling, consuming tobacco inside schools
Cool Lip is a filtered tobacco product
Child rights and anti-tobacco activists are worried about a disturbing trend in the city — children being used to sell Cool-lip, a tobacco product, inside educational institutions. Activists claim that despite many police complaints, there has been no action.
The factories making the filtered tobacco product are in Punjab and Delhi. One of the main distributors for the south is from Karnataka. From there, it is smuggled into Tamil Nadu. It is then supplied to various districts, where the banned product is sold in shops or by individuals, sources said.
“Now we find children being made to sell the products to their schoolmates. This is because, if adults get caught selling the product, they will be booked under the Juvenile Justice Act. To avoid this, they use children. However, little do they realise that people using children to sell these products can be booked under the Act too, ” said Cyril Alexander, State Convenor, Tamil Nadu People’s Forum for Tobacco Control (TNPFTC).
The packets are initially distributed for free to children. Once they become addicted, they start charging ₹20 for a packet, which has 40 small pieces of the filtered tobacco. “If a student gets a new customer, he will not have to pay for his supply. This way children are enticed into becoming distributors,” Mr. Alexander said.
The principal of a school in Thiruvanmiyur said she found out that a group of youngsters sold these products to students inside a playground near their school. “It is a very disturbing trend and will ruin the life of students. A student told me that he uses it while playing and sitting inside the classroom. It apparently gives them a kick,” she said.
These sellers have now gone mobile. “They now go around carrying them in their bags and sell them to regular customers. This is usually done after school and college hours,” said a child rights activist.
R. Rajkumar from the Tamil Nadu Head Master’s Association, Chennai chapter, said that schools conduct surprise checks on students for mobile phones and intoxicants. “When we find such intoxicants we warn the students and inform their parents.”
Mr. Alexander said that he has given many police complaints and yet there has been no action. “According to the Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products Act (COTPA), the head master of the school can also take action against those selling any form of tobacco near the school. But this is also not being done,” he said.
A senior police officer said that action will be taken if a complaint is received.