In a first of its kind, a village council in this Uttar Pradesh district Sunday decided to ban sale of tobacco products in the village and fine those caught consuming them. A similar ban on alcohol is also being mulled.The panchayat in Sarfabad has asked the village residents to abstain from selling or use of tobacco. Initiated by the wrestlers of the village, the move is aimed at urging the state government to impose a blanket ban on the pattern of some other states. Over 30 shopkeepers brought their tobacco products and burnt them in a bonfire to express support for the move.
“Anybody found selling tobacco or its products would have to shell out Rs.1,000 as fine. Whoever is found using tobacco will be fined of Rs. 500. And we have decided to reward any person who informs us about anyone selling or using tobacco with Rs. 100. The fines will be realized by the panchayat itself,” said Sukhbir Pehalwan, a wrestling coach.The members of the panchayat would Monday hand over a memorandum to District Magistrate M.K.S. Sundaram, addressed to the state government urging it to impose the ban at the earliest.
“We have thought to make Sarfabad as a model village in eradicating the use of tobacco in the state. We would soon begin awareness programme in the other villages too. If government does not do anything on it, we would turn this campaign into a movement,” said Subodh Yadav, an international wrestler. Though the panchayat has started the ban with tobacco, it shall soon include alcohol to prevent younger generations of the village from falling into wrong practices and worsening their health, panchayat members said.