The Panchayat of Sarfabad in Noida, a village known for its rich history in wrestling, on Sunday prohibited all forms of smoking products and announced fines and punishment for those who dared to violate the law. “Inhabitants caught selling and consuming products like gutkha and kheni in the village will have to pay Rs 1,000 and Rs 500. We will decide on harsher penalty for repeat violations,” panchayat member Sukhbir Singh, the brain behind the initiative, explained.

He argued: “Our next step will be to prohibit tobacco use and alcohol.”

Sarfabad is known for its champion wrestlers. “This village has produced greats such as Capt. Malkhan Yadav, who has won several medals for the country. For a wrestler, a healthy body is very important. Nowadays, many youngsters have become addicted to bad habits,” Singh added.

Himself a wrestler who won many medals during his stint in the Army, Singh declared: “Many villagers got cancer because of cigs. We needed the prohibit to stem the rot.”

All the 50-odd stores in the village have accepted the new smoking ban, burning almost 200 packs of gutkha during the panchayat conference.

“Tobacco business will be affected. But then, nobody wants their kids or family members to be victims of smoking,” grocer Mukul Chand, the biggest gutkha seller in the neighborhood, argued.

Vikram Singh, another panchayat member, gave a bigger picture of the village decision. “Tobacco is not prohibited UP, which has been one of the biggest consumers. By prohibiting tobacco products in our village, we want to send a message to the UP government to take note of this menace and introduce a blanket ban on cigarettes use in the state,” he confessed.