On Tuesday, in an announcement, the State government of Punjab
has said that the state's health department has banned the sale of loose
cigarettes as single sticks and loose tobacco. By doing so, Punjab has become
the first state to execute the ban. The ban had been enacted as the sale is in
violation of Section 7 of the COTPA (Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products,
Prohibition of Advertisement and Regulation of Trade and Commerce, Production,
Supply and Distribution Act, 2003).
The Section 7 of COTPA prohibits any trade or commerce in
cigarettes or any other tobacco products unless every package of cigarettes or
any other tobacco products sold, supplied or distributed contains specified
warnings including pictorial warning. Since loose cigarettes are affordable and
do not carry a pictorial or a written warning, it can't be sold.
Ms. Bhavna B. Mukhopadhyay, executive director of the Voluntary
Health Association of India said that the Punjab government had demonstrated
tremendous commitment towards safeguarding the health of the people with the
ban. She added, "This step will go a long way in saving lakhs of lives and also
reducing the government spending on treating tobacco-related diseases. The
Government of India should also completely ban the sale of loose cigarettes in
larger interest of younger generation falling prey to this tobacco menace and
suffering premature death."
Health Minister J.P. Nadda made an announcement in the Parliament
that the Ministry had accepted the recommendations of the expert panel on COTPA
amendments that prohibit the sale of loose cigarettes and raise the minimum
legal age for sale of tobacco products in the month of November. The panel
proposed to raise the minimum age for buying cigarettes and other tobacco
products from 18 to 21, adding that the penalty or fine for violation would be
raised, as well as making such offenses would be made clearly identifiable and
further informed that a draft note for the Cabinet had been circulated.